The strong man of Libya accepts cease-fire proposed by Russia and Turkey

The east and the west of Libya, the two warring parties from nine months ago, have accepted this Saturday, the cease-fire proposed Wednesday by the Russian pres

The strong man of Libya accepts cease-fire proposed by Russia and Turkey

The east and the west of Libya, the two warring parties from nine months ago, have accepted this Saturday, the cease-fire proposed Wednesday by the Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. First he took from Tripoli the Government of National Unity, backed by the UN, and after, he accepted the so-called National Liberation Army, under the command of the strong man of the east of Libya, marshal Khalifa Hafter, 76 years of age.

The increasingly more decisive role that it is playing Russia in Libya has now become apparent. The marshal had since April trying to take Tripoli. The war had stagnated into a stalemate, with more than 1,500 fatalities and without Hafter made progress in their objective of taking the capital. But since several months ago Hafter told with the help of mercenaries from russia. And the last 6th of January was able to conquer the bastion of Sirte, strategic position of vital importance in the north of the country.

Days before, Erdogan got the Turkish Parliament approved sending soldiers regular to Libya. All it took was a agreement between Erdogan and Putin to Hafter and the Government of Tripoli —but above all, Hafter, who was opposed to the cease— fire to accept what the rest of the international community was unable to achieve.

The European Union has been left out of the game in this division of tiles in the board of libya. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has spent several months trying to convene together at the UN meeting in Germany of the warring parties. Merkel met with Putin on Saturday in Moscow and the Russian president stated that the conference, which promotes Germany would be a "step in the right direction." But the main step, which is the cessation of hostilities, has only been given under the pressure of Putin and Erdogan. Remains to be seen what counterparts in diplomatic, economic, strategic and can take Ankara and Moscow of its involvement in the conflict.

Turkey and the Unity Government based in Tripoli was signed at the end of November, two agreements key. On the one hand, Erdogan announced the dispatch of troops scheduled to support the libyan Government. And on the other, Turkey achieved a new demarcation of the maritime borders of their exclusive economic zones. This new design of borders, not recognized neither by the Eu or the UN, would allow Turkey to undertake exploration for hydrocarbons in waters belonging to Greece and to Cyprus. As a protest to the agreement, the Greek Government has expelled from Athens to the ambassador in libya. Greece received the support of the European Union.

The European Union also is shown divided with regard to the libyan conflict. While Italy supports the Unity Government, France has supported Hafter in missions spot. The main allies of the marshal Hafter have been Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The Government of National Unity has received its main support from Qatar and, especially, Turkey.

The UN special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salamé (Lebanon, 1951), has complained, on numerous occasions, how difficult it is to get a ceasefire while foreign powers contribute to breaking the arms embargo decreed by the UN in Libya in 2011.

Now it remains to be seen how long it can last for a cease-fire which in theory went into effect in the early hours of Sunday morning. Already from the first hours, both parties were accusing their enemies of having broken the agreement. The commander of this Al-Mabrouk Al-Gazawi said in words collected by the agency Reuters: “The militia [of the National Unity Government] have violated the truce on more than one front of the battle, with all kinds of weapons”. For its part, the Unity Government is also said to have recorded “attacks of militias” belonging to the faction of Hafter.

it Will be difficult to maintain the ceasefire in a country where both sides are nourished by various militias and foreign mercenaries. In the east there are mercenaries from Sudan and Russia and in the west, mercenaries, syrians, which enjoy the support of Turkey. With respect to the presence of russia, Putin is following the script that has already established the conflict in the Ukraine, which is to deny any involvement of the State: "If there are Russian citizens there, and do not represent the interests of the Russian State and do not receive money from the Russian State", declared this week.

Fayez el Serraj, the prime minister of the Unity Government in libya, he traveled on Sunday afternoon to Istanbul to meet with Erdogan. They had barely been 24 hours since the start of the ceasefire and had already been reported dozens of violations from both sides in the conflict. Meanwhile, several embassies of the West celebrated the agreement, the truce seems to be extremely fragile. The only thing that seems to have gained in strength and solidity is the role of Turkey and Russia in Libya in front of the low influence of the united States and the European Union.

Updated Date: 12 January 2020, 21:00

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