A summit in Berlin, attended by the United Nations and European leaders, pledged to end foreign interference, seek a political solution and work towards a "permanent ceasefire" in Libya. The future of the agreement depends on the signatories and their ability to control themselves and their Libyan allies.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on January 21, 2020

The authority of the United Nations is at risk in Libya as General Khalifa Haftar, the renegade military commander, has virtually shut down the country’s oil production, bringing exports to a halt as the six-year civil war rages.

A summit in Berlin, attended by the United Nations and Germany-led European leaders, pledged to end foreign interference, seek a political solution and work towards a “permanent ceasefire” in Libya. The future of the agreement depends on the signatories and their ability to control themselves and their Libyan allies.

Haftar, whose forces control much of eastern Libya, is backed openly by Egypt and Saudi Arabia and tacitly by Russia, France and the US, whereas his opponent Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj is recognised by the United Nations and has an ally in Turkey and the European Union. Haftar’s forces have besieged the capital since April.

Haftar has shown no sign of relenting, instead ramping up the economic pressure on the GNA by closing the oilfields. Both Haftar and al-Sarraj attended the summit but did not talk to each other or sign the pledge.

“More than 220 schools in Tripoli are closed, depriving 116,000 children of their basic human right to an education. Migrants and refugees, trapped in detention centres near the fighting, have also been affected and continue to suffer in horrendous conditions. This terrible situation cannot be allowed to continue,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the summit.

Libya, General Khalifa Haftar,

Guterres called on all Libyan parties to take part in a “Libyan-owned and Libyan-led dialogue”, under the auspices of the UN, to pave the way for a political solution to the crisis.

The Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) reported that forces directly under the instruction of Haftar had blocked oil exports from Brega, Ras Lanuf, Hariga, Zueitina, and Sidra ports, The Guardian reported.

“The blockade instructions were given by Maj. Gen, Nagi al-Moghrabi, the commander of Petroleum Facilities Group appointed by the Libyan National Army, and Col Ali al-Jilani from the LNA’s Greater Sirte Operations Room,” the NOC said.

It said pipelines had been blocked linking the giant Sharara oilfield to the Zawiya oil terminal and El Feel oilfield to the Mellitah terminal. Libyan oil production was expected to collapse to 72,000 barrels a day, the lowest level since 2011.

Al-Serraj told Reuters he rejects eastern demands to link a reopening of oil ports to a new distribution of oil revenues among Libyans, saying the income was meant to benefit the entire North African country.

“The situation will be catastrophic should it stay like this,” Serraj said in an interview in Berlin.

“I hope foreign countries will follow the issue,” he added.

Libya, National Oil Refinery, Facebook

Libya is important to foreign countries because of its geographic location – a gateway between Europe and North Africa, its oil assets and ports.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, an opponent of Haftar, said it was significant that the general had not signed the Berlin agreement. He said Turkey would do whatever was necessary if Haftar and his Libyan National Army did not abide by the agreement. He has already sent former fighters from Syria to help protect the GNA government, which is led by al-Sarraj.

Erdoğan defended his troop presence in Libya, claiming the Russian security company Wagner had 2,500 security personnel in the country working for Haftar.

“It is not only Wagner; there are also 5,000 soldiers from Sudan there. In addition to this, there are soldiers from Chad and Niger. The Abu Dhabi administration takes from whatever sources they can find.”

In addition, he claimed there were Sudanese mercenaries in Libya whose funding was being provided by the United Arab Emirates.

Libya has been in disarray since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by NATO-backed rebels in 2011. For more than five years, it has had two rival governments, in the east and the west, with streets controlled by armed gangs.