At a conference, today, Germany and the United Nations will bring together delegates from Libya and other countries with interests in the country in order to make progress toward securing elections in the North African country and the withdrawal of foreign combatants.
The meeting, which includes U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is a follow-up to a January 2020 summit in which officials committed to respect an arms embargo and seek for a full cease-fire between the country’s warring sides. Over the years Germany has attempted to act as a go-between, including others.
The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, as well as Italy, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, have all also participated in the process.
Beginning of the Chaos in Libya
Back in 2011, Libya plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed rebellion ousted and murdered longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi. Since then, the nation has become a major transit point for African migrants attempting to reach Europe. Additionally, the oil-rich country remains divided between a United Nations-backed government in Tripoli and competing authorities in the east, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.
In April 2019, eastern-based commander Khalifa Hifter and his forces launched an operation to seize Tripoli. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates offered Haftar assistance in his attempt. After Turkey increased its military backing for the UN-backed government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries, Hifter’s 14-month campaign came to an end.
After Khalifa Hifter saw defeat, he agreed to a cease-fire agreement. The signed contract in October included a requirement that all foreign fighters and mercenaries leave Libya within 90 days, paving the way for elections on Dec. 24 and the formation of a transitional government in February.
Progress in Libya halted
But even after the agreement, there has been little movement in getting foreign forces out of Libya. The presence of foreign mercenaries, functioning as a type of deterrence, according to Jalel Harchaoui, a senior fellow at the Geneva-based Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime who regularly monitors Libya, has led to the current, if uneasy, ceasefire.
During this week’s talks Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister, said they had accomplished a lot in the last two years. However, Maas stated that there are still many hurdles ahead for Libya. The nation still requires continued stabilization that elections take place as planned and that foreign fighters and mercenaries depart Libya.
He went on to say that the meeting marked the start of a new era in which other parties discussed with Libyan men and women about the future, not only about Libya.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during the talks that everyone present shared the aim of a sovereign, stable, unified, secure Libya free of foreign interference. Blinken stated that it was what the Libyan people deserve, and it’s also vital for regional security.
Requirements for Peace
For continued peace to return to Libya national elections must be held in December. This will necessitate immediate consensus on the constitutional and legal concerns that would underpin those elections. Also, the cease-fire deal signed on October 23 must be completely followed. Under the deal withdrawal of all foreign forces from Libya must also be accomplished.
Once foreign forces leave Libya then all other armed groups must come under a joint military command. The united force created will then form Libya’s national military and police structure. Such actions will ensure progress for Libya and its people.