Germany in full gear to address Libyan conflict

BERLIN, Germany, showing keen interest in solving the Libyan crisis with international partners, had announced last September desire to a host a conference comprising relevant parties in yet another bid to tackling the conflict that troubled the world.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at a surprise announcement at the Bundestag last September 12, said her government was ready to organize a high-level conference grouping regional and international players.

The Libyan crisis began when commander of the Libyan National Army, General Khalifa Haftar, launched last April a military operation against Tripoli, the seat of the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj.

This is the largest German’s involvement in an international issue since it was involved in the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, in which Merkel succeeded in reaching the Minks agreement with Russia, France and Ukraine.

Germany, geographically far from Libya, organized five consultation rounds off camera with participation of relevant parties, indeed reflecting keenness on stability of Libya and North Africa as well as an attempt to prevent flock of illegal immigrants.

Advancement of Haftar’s forces to Tripoli and the Turkish parliament’s approval to send troops to GNA-controlled Eastern Libya, triggered Germany’s wide-scale and public involvement.

Two agreements between Turkey and GNA on military cooperation and demarcation of maritime borders was opposed by Egypt, Greece and Cyprus. The European Union (EU) did not recognize it.

Merkel, in a bid to drum up support for Germany’s efforts, visited Moscow on January 11 and held a four-hour talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who voiced support for Berlin’s endeavors to politically settle the conflict in the North African nation.

“The Berlin track is heading the right direction but there need to be extra arrangements which required coordination with the Libyan parties,” Putin told a news conference following his meeting with Merkel.

Merkel hoped Russia succeeded in establishing a ceasefire in Libya, referring to an initiative by Moscow and Ankara who called, on January 9, the warring parties to cease hostilities.

The Berlin conference, she said, “can only be the beginning of a long political process. It will be held under presidency of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his envoy to Libya Ghassan Salameh.” A flurry of diplomacy also took place to add momentum for the acceleration of the political process.

President of the European Council Charles Michel met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, and then flew to Cairo to meet with Egyptian President Abdulfattah Al-Sisi.

Al-Sarraj also met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Europe’s top supporter of the GNA’s president.

And on January 13, Russian announced Al-Sarraj and Haftar were coming to Moscow to sign a ceasefire agreement.

However, things were not as many had expected. Al-Sarraj signed the agreement and Haftar asked for time until Tuesday of this week to study the draft agreement, only to leave Moscow the next day without sealing the deal. He, however, said he would ceasefire.

That did not discourage Berlin from announcing it would host the conference on January 19, which would bring leaders from the UN, US, Russia, China, Turkey, France, Britain, Italy, Egypt, the UAE, Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the African Union.

Merkel voiced optimism over the success of the conference, saying it was a step towards negotiations and a political solution for the Libyan conflict.

“It is time to know if the international community can take a decision at the highest political levels regarding this crisis,” she said.

The conference, she added, aimed at affirming commitment to banning arms sent to Libya and ceasefire.

Germany got itself involved in a country with which it had no historic connections like France or Italy, but Merkel will face a daunting task in trying to convince heads of state and government to launch a long-term political process that would end insecurity and instability that marred Libya since ouster of Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011.

Source: Kuwait News Agency