Morocco to host new round of Libyan peace talks Sunday

Talks will focus on managing the transitional period and leaders in key posts

Morocco’s coastal town of Bouznika, south of the capital Rabat, will host the second round of talks between parties to the Libyan conflict on Sunday.The first round was held this month.

According to Moroccan diplomatic sources who spoke to Sky News Arabia, the talks are meant to pinpoint the mechanism of hiring leaders in key posts in the war-torn country.

Head of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives Aguila Saleh and President of the High Council of State (HCS) Khaled Al-Mashri will likely join the meetings, Sky New Arabia reported.

Talks will tackle preparations for October’s meetings in Geneva, which will include discussions on details of the post-conflict transitional period, including the restructuring of state institutions.

Libya has been divided between two authorities in Tripoli and Tobruk for six years. While the Government of National Accord (GNA) is based in the capital Tripoli, Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) controls the east and is allied to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives.

The LNA is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), France and Russia, while the GNA is backed by Turkey, Qatar and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.

On 22 August, both parties to the conflict declared a ceasefire that ended fears about possible GNA aggression against the port city of Sirte, 370 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli, and Jufra, which has a major military airbase.

GNA head Fayez Al-Sarraj announced on Facebook that he “issued instructions to all military forces to immediately cease fire and combat operations in all Libyan territories.”

Saleh announced a ceasefire which was welcomed by world leaders. Libyan powers agreed to hold elections in March 2021.

In Bouznika, both parties agreed on the “criteria, transparent mechanisms and objectives” for key power positions.

After Morocco’s talks, the UN’s interim envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams called on the “international community to shoulder its responsibilities to support this process and to unequivocally respect the Libyan people’s sovereign right to determine their future.”

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EU imposes sanctions on Turkish company for breaking U.N. arms embargo on Libya

The European Union imposed sanctions on Monday on a Turkish shipping company for breaking the United Nations arms embargo on Libya, Reuters said.

The EU froze assets of Avrasya Shipping whose cargo ship, Çirkin, accused of smuggling weapons to Libya and involved in an incident on June 10 in which the French frigate Courbet said it was illuminated by the targeting radar of a Turkish warship escorting a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Courbet was part of NATO’s Sea Guardian operation, which helps provide maritime security in the region. France said it was acting on intelligence from NATO that the Turkish-escorted ship was suspected of trafficking arms to Libya.

“The Çirkin has been linked to transports of military material to Libya in May and June 2020,” Reuters cited the EU’s Official Journal as saying.

Turkey has been denying arms trafficking allegations and said the ship was carrying humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.

The EU has a naval mission to support the U.N. embargo on Libya and the Courbet was part of NATO’s Sea Guardian operation, which helps provide maritime security in the region.

Turkey and France back opposing sides in Libya’s civil war. Turkey is supporting the U.N.-recognised, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in its fight against eastern-based rebel General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which is backed by Russia, Egypt, and France, among others.

Source: https://ahvalnews-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/ahvalnews.com/turkey-libya/eu-imposes-sanctions-turkish-company-breaking-un-arms-embargo-libya?amp

Heavy international pressure seen behind Sarraj’s resignation in Libya

Ankara’s relations with Tripoli could definitely be seriously affected by the resignation, if it ever comes to pass.

The resignation of the head of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, took the Libyans by surprise, even though several leaks in the press about a week ago should have prepared them for it.

The move constituted a surprise because not long ago before that, Sarraj was involved in a power struggle with his Minister of the Interior and his rival Fathi Bashagha, who was leading an indirect incitement campaign against him by encouraging Libyans to take to the streets and protest against rampant corruption.

While some view Sarraj’s resignation as a procedural step to pave the way for the next government of national unity, others see it as reflecting the failure of his attempts to prevent his being excluded from the scene, especially when Bashagha was reinstated in his post of Minister of the Interior.

Despite the cautious welcome given to this step, there was still divergent opinions in Libya about its seriousness and about its implications. There were also serious questions raised about the fate of the controversial agreements Sarraj had signed with Turkey.

Many believe that Sarraj’s resignation was brought about by strong US pressure with the purpose of appeasing international parties disturbed by the agreements he signed with Turkey, especially the maritime border demarcation agreement that angered the Europeans in general and France and Greece in particular.

Oliver Owcza, Germany’s ambassador to Libya, hastened to welcome the step. “President Sarraj’s decision deserves respect, given that the transfer of power represents a challenge to any country,” he wrote on Twitter.

Over the past few months, there were reports about France’s intention to present a draft resolution to the UN Security Council to withdraw the legitimacy of the GNA.

Statements by Amari Zayed, a member of the Libyan Presidential Council and a former leader in the Libyan Fighting Group and affiliated with the extremist movement known for its great loyalty to Turkey, confirm reports about Turkey’s concern over Sarraj’s resignation.

“The legitimacy that is relied upon is not linked to any person, regardless of his position, but rather to a political agreement that was the best in existence,” Zayed told the press, noting that this legitimacy was strengthened by the “revolutionaries” (referring to the militias) who had taken over the Presidential Council to preserve “the goals of the revolution,” and that these “revolutionaries” have the right to participate in the political decision and that nobody will be allowed to marginalise them.

Fayez al-Sarraj had announced on Wednesday evening, in a videotaped speech addressed to the Libyan people, his intention to formally resign from the presidency of the GNA at the end of next October. This remarkable development did not seem to be isolated from the equally sudden announcement only four days ago of the resignation of the parallel government in eastern Libya headed by Abdullah al-Thinni.

“I announce to everyone my sincere desire to hand over my duties to the next executive authority no later than next October, hoping that the Libyan Dialogue Committee will have completed its work by then, selected a new presidential council and chosen a head of government to whom to hand over the duties, according to the outcomes of the Berlin Conference that were approved by the UN Security Council,” Sarraj said in his speech.

Some observers went as far as to say that Sarraj wanted with this speech to pave the way for his exit from the Libyan scene with the least damage, yet Libyan parliamentarian, Ziad Daghim, did not hesitate to welcome Sarraj’s commitment to step down at the end of next month.

Daghim told The Arab Weekly by phone that Sarraj’s decision “is worthy of respect as it shows a consideration for the supreme public interest, and we should not also forget his other recent important national decisions, including declaring a ceasefire and refraining from escalating the war.”

He further considered the decision “a serious step by which he (Sarraj) dropped the ball in the others’ court, and it must be met with openness, and all of al-Sarraj’s sources of concern, if any, must be addressed.”

The mood was different, however, among the Islamists. Saad al-Jazwi, a member of the Libyan Advisory Council affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, was sceptical about Sarraj’s decision and tied it to external diktats. He considered Sarraj’s intended resignation “not the result of the terrible mismanagement conditions prevailing in the country during the past years, but rather came in line with the international project for Libya.”

Speaking this past Wednesday night on the Libya Panorama TV channel, Jawzi said that Sarraj’s televised speech “came as a result of international diktats that want to push Libya into another transitional stage.”

“We expected Sarraj to put in place practical measures for real remedies to the sufferings of the Libyan citizens, but instead he placed us in the international context by declaring that he will leave them (the practical measures) to the government that will be established through the dialogue committee, without adding anything new about the suffering of the Libyan people,” he added.

Most political interpretations of this particular development were almost all unanimous that Sarraj was subjected to strong pressures related to international arrangements being prepared in several Western capitals, especially in Washington, for a quick settlement in Libya through reshaping the political scene before the coming US elections.

Such interpretations stemmed from American reports of about a week ago confirming Sarraj’s intention to announce his resignation soon, in coordination with Turkey, which is still controlling the balance of power between the political forces in western Libya, although all indications confirm that Ankara’s relations with Tripoli will definitely be seriously affected by this resignation if it ever comes to pass.

Source: https://thearabweekly.com/heavy-international-pressure-seen-behind-sarrajs-resignation-libya

UN welcomes Libyan Prime Minister’s decision to step down

The United Nations welcomes the decision by Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister to step down by the end of October, a UN statement released Thursday said.

The Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli, Fayez al-Sarraj, announced his decision in a televised speech on Wednesday.
“I declare my sincere desire to hand over my duties to the next executive authority no later than the end of October,” al-Sarraj said, citing “internal and external conspiracies” and other obstacles to the effectiveness of his government.
Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General Stephanie Williams commended the decision in a statement, saying it “comes at a decisive turning point in Libya’s longstanding crisis when it is clear that the situation is no longer sustainable.”
“The onus is now on concerned Libyan parties to fully shoulder their responsibilities before the Libyan people, to take historic decisions, and to accept mutual concessions for the sake of their country,” Williams said.
Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/17/middleeast/fayez-al-sarraj-libya-quit-intl/index.html

Libya’s Tripoli See Another Spiral Of Violence Amid Refusal Of Militias to Lay Down Their Arms

On Tuesday, armed clashes between rival armed groups have resumed in the area of Airport road south of Tripoli, disrupting a ceasefire agreement reached in early September. Continue reading “Libya’s Tripoli See Another Spiral Of Violence Amid Refusal Of Militias to Lay Down Their Arms”