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Berlin Libya summit: A mere ‘gentlemen’s agreement’?

Berlin Libya summit: A mere ‘gentlemen’s agreement’?
While key local and international actors tackled case of Libya, concrete results have yet to emerge, says expert

By Ali Murat Alhas and Gozde Bayar

ANKARA (AA) - Last Sunday's Libya-themed conference held in the German capital Berlin brought a glimpse of hope for the war-weary country with a consensus on a ceasefire plan, but aggression by renegade commander Khalifa Haftar's forces and some vague points of the conference still stand as obstacles to peace.

One of the weakest points of the agreement reached in Berlin is an arms embargo, as it is being breached either by member countries of the UN Security Council or their allies, according to Nebahat Tanriverdi Yasar, an expert in North African studies at the Ankara-based think-tank the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM).

Yasar said the Berlin Conference – where representatives of Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and Haftar and leading regional and international actors were present -- highlighted the UN arms embargo in Libya and said the Security Council would impose sanctions on those breaching the resolution.

But the functionality of this proposed mechanism is questionable, as the repeated violations by actors have not been condemned so far in the history of conflict in the oil-rich country.

Yasar argued that if the member countries checked air and sea routes in a bid to disrupt weapon flows, this could mean a bigger role for ground routes used to transfer weapons, adding regional and influential countries such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France would emerge stronger.

"On the other hand, the subject was limited only to an arms embargo," she said, but pointed out that the UAE and Egypt used airbases, enabling aerial operations in the country.

"At the end of the day, what was reached in Berlin is a 'gentlemen's agreement' for the time being," she said, noting she was not really sure if the UN could take concrete steps in this direction.

"The military strikes on Tripoli and halting production of oil facilities while the Berlin conference was being held suggested that war was still an option for him [Haftar]," she said.

"This also demonstrates the vulnerability of the ceasefire."

She went on to say that the renegade commander would abandon the negotiation table every time he failed to reach his goals and stated that Haftar viewed negotiations as part of the war through which he seeks to dominate the country.

She noted that Haftar has continued to reinforce his forces’ fronts in Tripoli so they could pressure the GNA and return to military options if negotiations fail to bear any fruit.

Referring to the European Union’s possible deployment of a peacekeeping mission in Libya to monitor a ceasefire, which was recently discussed by the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell, Yasar said all actors seeking to play a role in Libya would want to take part in this mission if it was established.

"Issues such as who this peacekeeping force will consist of and determining the ceasefire line can be concluded at the negotiation table," she said.

According to the expert, Nov. 27, 2019 marked a milestone in the history of the conflict, as Turkey’s inclusion in the matter, which came after a request by the UN-recognized administration of Libya, transformed the case into a hot agenda item.

"Until Nov. 27, 2019, Libya was a regional crisis, and it was not a key element on the agenda of international organizations and the media," she said, underscoring that Turkish involvement forced international actors and organizations to take responsibility.

On Jan. 12, the warring parties in Libya announced a ceasefire in response to a joint call by the leaders of Turkey and Russia. But talks for a permanent ceasefire ended without an agreement after Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal.

On Jan. 19, Haftar accepted terms in Berlin to designate members to a UN-proposed military commission with five members from each side to monitor the ceasefire’s implementation.

Notably, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced on Jan. 20 that Germany would organize another conference on Libya in February and participants of the previous conference would be present.

Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.

Haftar’s military offensive against Libya’s internationally recognized government has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people since April last year.

source: News Feed
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