By Ali Murat Alhas
International organizations focused only on migration, European security which deepened conflict in Libya, expert says.
As all eyes are on the Sunday’s Berlin Conference, where regional and international actors are set to discuss Libya conflict that has been going on since the ouster of the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Nebahat Tanriverdi Yasar, an expert at North Africa studies of Ankara-based Center for Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM) think-tank, told Anadolu Agency that the initial peace-themed political process was launched in 2015 with the Skhirat agreement.
Named after a city in Morocco, where the agreement was signed, Skhirat deal was sponsored by the UN in a bid to find a political solution to Libyan crisis. In line with the agreement, the Government of National Accord in Libya was born and was considered as the sole executive authority in the country.
However, Yasar said the agreement did not bring a permanent solution to the crisis as it focused on “unreachable” goals while ignoring core problems scourging the country.
“These unresolved issues in Libya later resulted in polarization around two local powers and the involvement of international actors,” she said, adding these actors sought to benefit from the crisis environment in the country.
She underlined that international organizations such as the EU and UN only reacted to migration influx to Europe and its security, and said that this sort of policy led to deepening of the conflict in Libya which eventually turned into an international crisis.
Yasar went on to say that regional powers such as the UAE and Egypt as well as international actors including France, Russia and Russia became a party to the conflict and efforts for finding a political solution was set aside.
Arguing that the involvement of different countries does not provide any constructive and inclusive solution options as they act in accordance with their own interests, she said: “For this reason, the success of the Berlin Conference will be possible on condition that either this foreign support is blocked or balanced,” Yasar added.
Moscow talks and Haftar
Following a joint call by Turkish and Russian presidents, the warring sides of the Libyan conflict announced a cease-fire and gathered in Moscow on Jan. 12.
However, Libya’s renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, the archenemy of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya, left Moscow without reaching a permanent cease-fire deal.
“In the light of the fact that Haftar rejected the deal [in Moscow] and conditions he put forward, it is understood that Khalifa Haftar still views war as an instrument to reach his goals,” Yasar said.
Emphasizing that Haftar has sought to obtain international legitimacy since 2014, she went onto say that his efforts to take charge of Libya’s leadership failed, but he has now been recognized as one of the prominent actors in the crisis.
“In addition, he sought to be financially independent of Tripoli by repeatedly selling oil he captured from the oil facilities in eastern regions. However, his attempts ended up in failure,” she added.
According to Yasar, Haftar’s failures on the diplomatic front encouraged him to be more active militarily, and he was reaffirming this claim through his moves after Moscow talks, as he continues to supply resources to his military ahead of the Berlin Conference.
Repercussions of Turkey’s involvement
On Nov. 27, Ankara and Tripoli reached two separate memorandums of understanding (MoU) — one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
On Jan. 3, the Turkish parliament ratified a motion authorizing the government to deploy troops in Libya in a bid to protect the UN-recognized government and prevent civilian losses amid deadly clashes.
Yasar said parliament’s ratification of troop deployment was a significant development and the matter was once again brought to the international agenda.
“In a bid to not lose influence in the crisis, the parties waiting for the end of Tripoli offensive were forced to take steps,” she said, adding this came after Turkey took the initiative.
She went on to say that Turkey’s initial goal in Libya was to find common political ground, and this was policy that could be observed in statements by senior Turkish politicians on Libya.
“However, we see, [Turkey] is determined to follow a tougher policy, if Haftar forces continued operations on Tripoli and put effort to remove the GNA out of the political equation,” she said, arguing this approach would be visible in the coming peace summit in Germany.
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 UAE, and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.