Libya ‘needs foreign interference to stop’: UN envoy
Berlin, Germany | AFP | International players must stop meddling in the Libyan conflict, the UN’s special envoy told AFP on Saturday, on the eve of a summit of world powers to try to bring peace to the North African nation.
“All foreign interference can provide some aspirin effect in the short term, but Libya needs all foreign interference to stop. That’s one of the objectives of this conference,” Ghassan Salame said in an interview ahead of the Berlin summit.
Leaders of Russia, Turkey and France are due to join talks in Berlin on Sunday that are being held under the auspices of the United Nations, which wants to extract a pledge from foreign powers wielding influence in the region to stop meddling in the conflict, be it through the provision of weapons, troops or financing.
Both leaders of the warring factions — strongman Khalifa Haftar and the head of Tripoli’s UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj — are also expected at the first gathering of such scale on the conflict since 2018.
Libya has been torn by fighting between rival armed factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi and toppled his regime.
More recently, Sarraj’s troops in Tripoli have been under attack since April from Haftar’s forces, with clashes killing more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters and displacing tens of thousands.
Although Sarraj’s government is recognised by the UN, some powerful players have broken away to stand behind Haftar — turning a domestic conflict into what is essentially a proxy war with international powers jostling to secure their own interests from global influence to oil and migration.
Alarm grew internationally when Ankara ordered in troops early January to help shore up Sarraj, while Moscow is suspected of providing weapons, financing and mercenaries to Haftar — something Russia has denied.
“We must end this vicious cycle of Libyans calling for the help of foreign powers. Their intervention deepens the divisions among the Libyans,” said Salame, noting that the place of international players should be to “help Libyans develop themselves”.
The UN envoy said Sunday’s meeting will also seek to “consolidate” a shaky ceasefire.
“Today we only have a truce. We want to transform it into a real ceasefire with monitoring, separation (of rival camps), repositioning of heavy weapons” outside urban zones, he said.