Haftar and Serraj in Moscow for peace deal but Haftar leaves without signing
Following a series of rapidly moving developments resulting in the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Serraj, and the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, agreeing to implement a ceasefire in Tripoli from 12 January, both visited Moscow with the aim of them signing the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement on 13 January. According to media reports at the time of writing, Haftar declined to sign the ceasefire deal because it did not include a deadline for disbanding the GNA forces and nor several demands he had made to Russia such as Turkish forces being withdrawn from Libya and the cancellation of the recent GNA-Turkey security agreement.
Haftar has a long history of bowing to initial pressure from international allies with regards to ceasefire and peace deals, but then either completely disregarding the processes or failing to adhere to the terms of the agreement. However, it is less clear if his unwillingness to agree to the ceasefire was due to his own desire to continue the military operations, pressure from his Libyan support base, or pressure from Egypt and the UAE – or a combination of all three. Although the conflict is now into its tenth month and the LNA’s resources remain strained, Haftar has always stated his desire to achieve a military solution to the Libyan crisis and had made no recent claims that his stance or that of the LNA had changed. Furthermore, the LNA has made small advances in southern Tripoli recently and made a significant gain by seizing control of Sirte on 6 January.
Despite Russia’s claims that Haftar is taking more time to consider the ceasefire deal and that mediation to this end will continue, it seems unlikely that Haftar will agree to sign the deal having made such a dramatic exit. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the current fragile ceasefire will automatically end and it may be that it continues up until the Berlin conference planned for 19 January. However, if the Berlin conference fails to take place or offers little in the way of tangible outcomes, then fighting is likely to resume.