Brussels, Rome, Cairo, Istanbul, Algiers … For the past eight days, Libya has been at the heart of an incessant diplomatic ballet to prevent the internationalization of the conflict in the country from making it last. "A second Syria", as feared by Heiko Maas, the head of German diplomacy. It’s in Moscow that a decisive game is finally played.
Vladimir Putin received Monday, January 13, the heads of the belligerents of the East and the West of Libya, who have disputed the country since the fall of Colonel Ghadafi in 2011. The meeting was to formalize the cease-fire that only the head of the Kremlin managed to impose them, nine months after Marshal Khalifa Haftar launched his offensive on Tripoli.
The Marshal at the head of a self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (ANL) and Aguila Salah, President of the Libyan Parliament who has taken refuge in Tobruk represent Libya from the east. While Fayez al-Sarraj president of the government known as of national union (GNA) and Khaled al-Mechri, president of the Council of State (the parliament in Tripoli) are the interlocutors of the West for the Russian leaders seconded by the ministers Turkish Foreign and Defense Affairs.
Because it supports Marshal Haftar's troops militarily and economically, notably by sending mercenaries to the field and printing Libyan dinars, Russia has leverage on the offensive camp in the East, without to have cut ties with the West.
If Turkey, for its part, has publicly argued that it is increasing its aid to the opposing party – the deputies having voted on January 2 the possibility of deploying soldiers on the ground -, "it accepts the Russian diplomatic umbrella", notes Jalel Harchaoui, researcher at the Dutch Institute for International Relations Clingendael.
The alliance of Russia and Turkey
"Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan agree to oppose the West, to marginalize the European diplomats which failed to settle the conflict, and thus take the leadership", continues the researcher. According to him, Algeria, which is making an attempt at a diplomatic renaissance after a very turbulent year 2019, is delighted that Moscow is taking the reins of the Libyan file, against France and against the European Union.
If Emmanuel Macron called, Monday, January 13, that the fragile cease-fire in force since the day before is "Credible, sustainable and verifiable", the resolution of the conflict is definitely no longer in Paris, as the Élysée aspired. "The UN has been the victim of its divisions, the United States is not making Libya a priority, France has not been constructive by betting solely on Khalifa Haftar … everything has argued that the file changes hands " adds Patrick Haimzadeh, a former diplomat stationed in Libya.
The condemnation of Turkish involvement by the Western camp, while the interventionism of the United Arab Emirates alongside Marshal Haftar was carried out in accomplice silence, completed discrediting the Western chancelleries, and helped to make Moscow the new center of decision.
Germany enters the diplomatic field
"The diseases in the Libyan conflict are foreign, as underlined by the UN special envoy, Ghassan Salamé", reports Jalel Harchaoui. Without bringing peace to a plateau, the truce in the conflict, made possible by Moscow, opens the way for the holding of the Berlin conference, which has been postponed several times.
The conference, which plans to address political, security and economic issues, is scheduled to take place on January 19 with the presence of five members of the UN Security Council, as well as those from Germany, Turkey, Italy, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. To do this, Germany benefits from its neutral position in the conflict – it was opposed to military intervention in 2011. It intends to succeed where France has failed. For Patrick Haimzadeh, "Angela Merkel is determined to leave the political scene on a diplomatic success".
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