Stop the fire, respect for the arms embargo ordered by the United Nations and the end of military support to the opposing sides. The summit on Libya convened this Sunday in Berlin by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel ended with more and better results of the expected five days after the failure of the conference in Moscow. Those involved in the conflict also agreed to establish a international mechanism for the resolution of the civil war which has plagued the North African country since 2011, after the overthrow and death of dictator Muamar Gaddafi. The declaration signed at the end of the meeting by the 16 participating countries and organizations underlines that efforts to verify the arms embargo will be increased, demands the complete demobilization and disarmament of the combatant militias and establishes sanctions for those who break the ceasefire.
The conference has made a important contribution when it comes to supporting United Nations peace efforts, said Merkel. “We can establish that everyone agrees that we want to respect the arms embargo,” said the federal chancellor at the end of the appointment, which was attended by among others the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Egypt, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayip Erdogan and Abdelfatah al-Sisi, as well as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who left Berlin without making statements.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stressed that the participants in the meeting have given a clear signal of their interest in a peaceful solution of the conflict and declared its commitment to suspend its intervention in it, as is the case of Turkey, which recently sent troops to support the internationally recognized Government, or Russia, which supports the rebel forces with mercenaries.
The German head of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, acknowledged, however, that the signing of the final declaration is not enough and that a committee will be established to verify compliance with the agreements. The summit in Berlin was attended by the Prime Minister of Libya, Fayez al-Serraj, whose Executive is recognized by the UN and supported, among others by the EU and Turkey, and the rebel general Jalifa Haftar, who controls most of the country and It has the backing of Russia and Egypt, but also of France. Although they had no personal meeting in the German capital, they both maintained intense conversations with the hosts and other international partners. The summit gave rise to numerous bilateral meetings, especially by Merkel, although other delegations also discussed on their own, such as those of Erdogan and Putin, whose interests coincide in other fields, but are confronted in Libya.
The Berlin declaration formulates a new political process for Libya that aims to strengthen the central institutions and return to the political process to pacify the country under the supervision of the United Nations. A reform of the security sector should lead the State to recover the monopoly of violence, notes the document, which also demands respect for international humanitarian law and Human Rights and warns that those responsible for attacks against civilians, kidnappings, extrajudicial executions, sexual violence, torture and trafficking in human beings will be prosecuted . Germany and the EU have a special interest in resolving the conflict in Libya, from whose shores a good part of the illegal migrants heading to Europe leave.
That is why the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the British and Italian prime ministers, Boris Johnson and Giuseppe Conte, also went to the German capital. The latter insisted on sending a European mission to control the ceasefire in Libya, while his colleague from London expressed his willingness to send «People and experts» to support that supervision. In that sense, the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrel, also pressed for Europeans to get involved in the control of the arms embargo ordered by the UN. The summit was also attended by high representatives of China, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, the African Union and the Arab League.
A second Syria for Erdogan and Putin
The future of Libya is discussed in Berlin and is not in the hands of the Libyans. The fall of Muammar Gaddafi, led by an international military intervention launched in 2011 under the protection of the UN and led by France and the United Kingdom, plunged the country into an internal civil war that in the last nine months has Tripoli as its main objective, Mikel Ayestarán (Jerusalem) reports.
Libyans are the pawns of the great game that Russia and Turkey dispute on the ground through their political and military support to the leader of the Libyan National Army, Jalifa Haftar, and Fajez Serraj, prime minister of the Government of National Unity recognized by the UN . As in Syria, both powers support different options on the ground and are willing to reach the end. The rebel leader, whose goal is to “free Tripoli from militias,” also has the support of Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and France, while the leader recognized by the international community is backed by Qatar and Italy.
All these countries gathered in Germany speak of the importance of the “ceasefire” and the “arms embargo”, of the risk of “external interference”, but in recent months they have been responsible for fanning the flame by sending armament and troops. The UN said in a report that the UAE, Sudan, Turkey and Jordan did not respect the arms embargo and the Ankara parliament approved at the beginning of years the deployment of a special force, mostly Syrian Islamist militiamen, to protect the capital.
International summits are important to agree on messages, but it is more so that there is political will on the part of the main parties involved in fulfilling their word and ending the humanitarian catastrophe in Libya.