Negotiated ceasefire at risk of collapse as GNA looks to pull out of 5+5 JMC
On 11 December, GNA Defence Minister Saleh al-Deen al-Namroush claimed in an interview with the French news outlet France24 that the Libyan National Army (LNA) had violated its ceasefire agreement with the Government of National Accord (GNA). Namroush’s accusations of a ceasefire violation on the part of the LNA appear to be in response to an LNA attack on a GNA-controlled military camp in the southern town of Ubari on 6 December. His statements also follow indications that the GNA and its Turkish backers have been preparing to participate in a new round of conflict. Turkey is reported to have begun recruiting a new intake of Syrian mercenaries to fight in Libya, increasing its airlift of military equipment via the Watiya and Misrata airbases, and reaching out to power brokers and communities in southern Libya.
Namroush warned that the GNA would pull out of the UN-mediated ceasefire if such attacks continued, and ‘expressed serious doubts that elections could be held in December 2021’ as currently planned. Namroush added that if the ceasefire broke down, the GNA stood ready to engage in a military confrontation with LNA forces. He also ‘vividly ruled out’ the possibility that LNA Commander Khalifa Haftar could have any role in a future political agreement. On 10 December, the head of the GNA, Fayez al-Serraj, met with the GNA representatives at the 5+5 JMC to discuss the ceasefire and state-of-play on the ground. Namroush’s statement indicates that armed clashes could soon resume between the GNA and the LNA in southern Libya and possibly along the Sirte-Jufra frontlines.