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Libya factions must 'cease military actions': EU

December 23, 2019

The EU has called on forces allied to rival Libyan governments to return to the negotiating table and end the conflict by political means. But the entry of Russia and Turkey into the conflict could complicate the matter.

A fighter of the UN-backed government forces of Libya is seen in south of Tripoli
Image: picture-alliance/Xinhua/H. Turkia

The EU's foreign policy arm on Monday urged warring factions in Libya to "cease all military actions and resume political dialogue" amid growing escalations in the North African country.

"There is no military solution to the crisis in Libya," said a spokesperson for the European External Action Service. "The only way to settle it must be a political one, negotiated on the basis of the proposals recently put forward by the United Nations."

Over the past week, the conflict has taken another violent turn as two competing governments vie for further power in Libya.

Read more: Can the EU and partners stabilize Libya?

French President Emmanuel Macron (center), Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (left) and General Khalifa Haftar (right), commander in the Libyan National Army (LNA) during a press conference
French President Emmanuel Macron (center) previously supported General Khalifa Hifter (right). That could complicate European calls for a cessation of hostilities.Image: picture-alliance/C. Liewig

'Hybrid warfare'

Last week, the US State Department said it was "very concerned" by growing hostilities and reports of Russian mercenaries supporting the eastern-based Libyan National Army (NLA) under the guise of private security contractors.

"We see the Russians using hybrid warfare, using drones and aircraft," a senior US State Department official told Reuters news agency. "With the increased numbers of reported Wagner forces and mercenaries on the ground, we think it's changing the landscape of the conflict and intensifying it."

Read more: Could Libya be Russia's new Syria?

Ahmed Maiteeq on Conflict Zone

Turkish 'provocation'

Meanwhile, Turkey has approved a new security deal and separate maritime agreement effectively allowing it to provide military assistance to the Tripoli-based government, which is widely recognized by the international community.

The NLA, led by Saudi-supported Libyan strong-arm Khalifa Haftar, has warned against the Turkish measures. A senior lawmaker of the eastern-based government told the Associated Press that Turkey's support is a "provocation" and would "prolong the conflict and threaten North African nations."

Libya plunged into chaos in 2011 after dictator Moammar Gadhafi launched a brutal crackdown against anti-government protesters. NATO-backed rebels eventually defeated the regime and captured Gadhafi, who was killed in captivity. Since then, warring factions have fought a bitter war to maintain power in the North African country.

Read more: What is Turkey doing in Libya?

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ls/mm (Reuters, AP)