From the ceasefire to effective and permanent stabilisation
The ‘Agreement for a Complete and Permanent Ceasefire in Libya’ reached under the auspices of the 5+5 Joint Military Committee represents a significant step in trust-building between eastern and western Libya. As such it will likely prevent large scale clashes between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) in the Oil Crescent from reoccurring in the immediate future (effectively formalising the cessation of hostilities along the Sirte-Jufra frontline — the product of a mutually hurting stalemate). It could also potentially generate momentum for cross-cutting east-west alliances among certain groups, and its successful implementation could significantly boost the credibility of negotiations occurring on the political and economic tracks. However, the agreement is a ‘wireframe’, meaning that enforcement mechanisms are vague, and the tasks it lays out may be unrealistically ambitious. The agreement designates implementation responsibilities to subcommittees that have yet to be established and formalised. A significant first test will be the creation of a Security Operation Room charged with securing the Sirte-Jufra frontlines and removing military and armed units from the region.
The extent to which the international community is genuinely unified around these efforts remains unclear. The UN, GNA and LNA all have their own reasons for wanting the emotional and PR boost derived from such an announcement, and the UN, in particular, may be seeking to pre-empt any attempts by Russia, Turkey, France, or Egypt to create alternative tracks for Libyan-Libyan negotiations or to ‘scoop’ the progress of the UN track with an announcement that would catch the UN off guard (such as occurred in September with the agreement on lifting the oil blockade being negotiated in Sochi between LNA commander Khalifa Haftar and GNA Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq). Additionally continued foreign presence, particularly from Turkey or Russia, is likely to undermine the agreement and could also provide domestic actors justification for breaching it. Essentially, the agreement is about the optics of which foreign powers are controlling the mediation of the Libya conflict. Turkey and Russia have recently had the upper hand; now the UN and Western powers have usurped that spot. The fight to dominate the Libya file will thus likely continue apace.