Sarraj and Salame Clarify Abu Dhabi Dialogue, Say National Conference Is Still On
On 6 March, Mohamed Sallak, the spokesperson for the Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, held a press conference to give further details about the so-called ‘Abu Dhabi Dialogue’ which occurred between Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar on 27 February. Sallak stated that the event was a consultative meeting, with no official binding agreements or statements. On 10 March, UN envoy Ghassan Salame appeared on a Libyan TV station and confirmed that during the meeting, both Sarrajand Haftar reaffirmed their commitment to a civilian state and civilian oversight over the army. He also clarified that the UN roadmap and National Conference was delayed but still on track and will hopefully be held by the end of March in a Libyan city yet to be decided.
This panicked reaction in Libya to the Sarraj-Haftar meeting is indicative of the mistrust and division that continue to run deep within Libyan society. The fact that it was Serraj and Salame who were forced to issue these clarifications and sooth fears in western Libya highlights the continued fragility of their positions and the political framework from which they both draw their legitimacy – the UN road map. In comparison, Haftar has still not issued a statement on the meeting, letting people assume he was the one to gain most from the meeting, which is likely true given his upper hand on the ground at the moment. As a result, political volatility is likely to persist and could potentially increase in the coming days and weeks, particularly in Tripoli. This could lead to sudden bouts of insecurity or alliance shifts which could undermine security or political stability with little warning.