By Janet Ekstract
ISTANBUL (TURKISH JOURNAL) – On Wednesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that it agreed with Russia that working to reopen a political solution rather than a military one is key to resolving the Libya conflict. The ministry made a formal statement that said both nations will continue their efforts to encourage all parties in Libya as they commented – to create “conditions for a lasting and sustainable ceasefire.”
The ministry added that moving forward, commitments by all parties must abide by the promises made at the 2020 Berlin Conference and that the United Nations must be involved in the coordinated effort to get those involved back to the negotiating table.
A significant step forward is both Turkey and Russia requesting all parties involved to take steps for the “safe humanitarian access and delivery of urgent assistance to all those in need.” They also expressed that a joint working group on Libya will be considered. The statement said that Turkey and Russia will be meeting in the “near future” for more consultations on Libya but declined to name a specific date.
In addition, both nations said they pledge their “strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Libya.” The necessity to “combat terrorist individuals and entities” was strongly emphasized. Both Russia and Turkey also reiterated their commitment to continue with talks on security and stability in Libya while seeking to improve the humanitarian situation there.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Libya’s parliament affiliated with the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya, outright rejected the decision by Egypt’s parliament to militarily intervene in Libya – specifically Sirte – gateway to oil terminals in the North African nation. Egypt’s parliament voted to allow Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi to enter Libya with his army. The Libyan GNA-based parliament condemned the decision saying it is “illegal” and politically motivated. The Egyptian parliament was directed to do so by the parliament in Tobruk that backs warlord and renegade Khalifa Haftar.
GNA’s parliament requested the Libyan government to be prepared to give the “correct response” to this decision that came a week after the Tobruk parliament gave Egypt the go-ahead to use military intervention in Libya. As the parliament under the GNA said, the decision was made under the guise of “protecting the national security” of both countries. In June, al-Sisi threatened to get involved in Libya when the GNA announced that with Turkish support it would move forward to recapture the strategic port city of Sirte and Jufra Airbase which Haftar’s militia recaptured mostly due to support from Russia’s Wagner Group, the UAE, Jordan and France.
After Haftar’s numerous defeats in June, his backers did an about face and began to up the ante in the fight to see who might recapture Sirte and use it to its own advantage. That’s when Egypt’s al-Sisi proposed a ceasefire but the GNA rejected it on the grounds that Haftar’s major backer – Egypt and Haftar never kept any promises made for a ceasefire.
There has been a significant military buildup in and around Sirte not just by Egypt – also from Russia’s Wagner Group and the UAE with the GNA taking a stand to protect its interests in the area. It appeared there was a race to the oil with the intensified military buildup of the last two weeks. So Turkey and Russia’s plan to turn back toward a political solution could not come at a more apropos time. It will be up to the UN to play its part in making sure that this time there is an authentic, coordinated effort to bring all parties in Libya to the table for what is hoped will eventually lead toward a political reconciliation. One thing is for sure, only time will tell.