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How successful was Berlin peace summit aimed at achieving cease-fire in Libya?

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On Sunday, world leaders assembled in Berlin to hold cease-fire talks among the warring factions of Libya, with General Khalifa Haftar

On Sunday, world leaders assembled in Berlin to hold cease-fire talks among the warring factions of Libya, with General Khalifa Haftar heading one and Libyan prime minister Fayez Al Sarraj heading the other. Among the members who attended the peace talks were German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, other European leaders and officials from UAE and Egypt. The nation which was deliberately kept out of the talk was Qatar despite its active role and support towards Sarraj’s forces.

Leaders gathered to look for a more lasting peace in the war-torn nation, where other nations like Russia and Turkey showing allegiance to opposing groups to access the country’s oil resources, have complicated the issue. With Russia supporting Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and Turkey supporting UN-backed Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA), it was a struggle for all the members to move towards a sustainable solution putting an end to the ongoing political turmoil in Libya.

It took five long hours for the leaders to reach somewhere which still cannot not be called a permanent solution. The US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told reports, “There was progress made towards a full-fledged ceasefire, a truce, temporary stand-down. There’s still a lot of work to do.”

In recent times, this is the second attempt at achieving a ceasefire in Libya after the failed Moscow peace summit, held last week. At Moscow, Haftar declined to sign the peace agreement with Turkey’s President, after Erdogan’s military pact with Sarraj further intensified the country’s internal clashes, which since April killed more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters and displaced tens of thousands.

Erdogan signed a military pact with Sarraj in November 2019, extending a helping hand to GNA, offering to combat the rival forces of Haftar, in exchange for letting Ankara conduct energy exploration in its region. On the other hand, Haftar is backed by Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.

Merkel, who met both Haftar and Sarraj separately before the conference began, told reporters, “I’m not under any illusion that this won’t be a difficult path.” The talks, which can be seen as phase one of the peace process in Libya, concluded with a communique being issued “refraining (other nations) from interference in the armed conflict or in the internal affairs of Libya and urge all international actors to do the same.“ Besides, talks hinted that UN sanctions would be imposed on “those who are found to be in violation of the cease-fire arrangements.”

As per a senior Arab official, UAE and Egypt used the forum also to convince Haftar to agree to a peace deal. Though it is still unclear what was Haftar’s reaction to the talks.

If summit turns successful, then in the following step Sarraj and Haftar would start holding formal peace talks. A senior US official told reporters that the dangerous part is that it is not even clear that the warring heads have sufficient control of their fighters to ensure a cease-fire.

Acting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that the Berlin conference had been “rather useful.” He said, “The Libyan sides have made a small step forward since their meeting in Moscow. (Last week).” He added, “it is clear that it is not yet possible to establish a stable serious dialog between them. The differences in approaches are too great.”

Besides, resolving the differences among the country’s political heads, the key agenda of the meet was to protect the country’s oil reserves before they are taken over by external forces, turning Libya into Syria. Libya is battling with instability and proxy wars since its veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a 2011 uprising.

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