Libya’s UN Talks to Resume Next Tuesday?
USNMIL’s Chief Bernardino Leon announced today that after September’s abortive talks held in Ghadames, rival Libyan camps will meet in an undisclosed location for a second round of UN sponsored talks on Tuesday 9 December. Hours after this announcement, a strong statement of support for participation of all stakeholders in these talks was issued by France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, the EU and the UN reiterated their calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities and underscored their willingness, if key stakeholders fail to participate in the UN-led process, to consider additional measures to protect Libya’s unity, stability and prosperity, and to counter expanding terrorist threats to Libya and the region.
Most interestingly, it appears that Libya’s international partners have lost patience with the HoR and Thinni’s government due to their increasing lack of interest in seeking a negotiated solution to the current crisis. Besides employing an overtly military strategy during the past six weeks, since the start of Haftar’s second offensive over Benghazi, the Tobruk’s establishment has recently also made moves to duplicate in Eastern Libya several institutions currently located in Tripoli, under the territorial control of Fajr Libya, such as the Supreme Court and the NOC.
It does not come as a surprise then that Al Arabiya quotes Bernardino Leon as stating that neither Tripoli’s nor Tobruk’s authorities can advance any claim legitimacy in the current scenario. Furthermore, Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni is quoted by askanews.it with the following statement (Libya-analysis.com translation) regarding the aim of establishing a new national unity government through this second round of talks:
“The meeting of 9 December in Libya has the goal of engaging all independent local authorities, with the aim of creating a national unity government. In the joint statement, we condemn the use of violence, terrorism, and air strikes which further complicate the achievement of a peace agreement.”
“If camps invited to the talks will not take part in them, the six countries, the EU and the UN might take new decisions to protect the unity of Libya and against terrorism.”
However, regardless of these calls to dialogue, on Wednesday Haftar’s air forces carried out further strikes over Derna and Zwarah, thus further enlarging the virtual Western front of Libya’s internal war. Airstrikes over Zwarah came less than two weeks after the city had been declared as safe from attacks by Operation Dignity spokesman Mohammed al Hijazi and underline Tobruk’s growing reliance over the use of airforce to achieve any sort of military development, something that should sound as a wake up call to the hears of politicians Thinni’s government and the HoR and spur them to fully embrace the upcoming talks initiative. Nonetheless, whilst unfortunately it is quite likely that upcoming talks will not represent a watershed moment in the current crisis, a glimmer of hope emerges from the more decisive and engaging tone that Libya’s international partners appear to have now adopted and which could be conducive to much more significant developments for the country in the medium term.