Germany to host post-UNGA Conference on Libya
On 11 September, Germany’s ambassador to Libya announced that Germany would host a major conference on Libya in conjunction with the UN as a follow on to this year’s UN General Assembly (UNGA) discussions (to be held next week in New York City). Details about the proposed conference have not been released, with media speculating that it will be held in either October or November in Berlin. The announcement of the conference followed shortly after German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed earlier in the day to the Bundestag that the Libya Crisis threatened to destabilize all of Africa and that Germany would work to avoid a proxy war in Libya.
It is worth noting that while in recent weeks there has been an uptick in US engagement on Libya, with major meetings in both DC and Tunis. There are genuine concerns that the momentum might stall as the Administration looks to find a replacement for national security adviser John Bolton. Conversely, it could be that Bolton was a drag on State Department engagement with the GNA as Bolton was widely believed to have been pro-LNA and a critic of State Department attempts to resist a pivot of President Trump towards Haftar.
The planned conference will be the first major international event on Libya since the LNA launched its assault on the capital on 4 April this year. The UN believes that Germany can be an effective mediator in the conflict. While Germany has close links with regional players with influence on the ground in Libya, including Egypt and Turkey, it is likely going to have trouble bringing some of these major regional players to the table or exerting leverage over them. The conference could be a game-changer only if it articulates concrete plans about petrol smuggling, the economy, transparency, changing the central bank governor or other low-hanging fruit. If no indications emerge that these achievable subjects will be discussed, its outcome is likely to be like that of Palermo and Paris before it.