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Libyan rivals to sign ceasefire deal in Moscow Monday: official

Libya’s warring factions are expected to sign a ceasefire in Moscow later on Monday [File: Ismail Zitouny/Reuters] The head of Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj and his rival, strongman Khalifa Haftar, are expected to sign a ceasefire agreement in Moscow on Monday, a senior Libyan official said. The oil-rich North African…

Libyan rivals to sign ceasefire deal in Moscow Monday: official

Libya’s warring factions are expected to sign a ceasefire in Moscow later on Monday [File: Ismail Zitouny/Reuters]
The head of Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj and his rival, strongman Khalifa Haftar, are expected to sign a ceasefire agreement in Moscow on Monday, a senior Libyan official said.
The oil-rich North African country has been wracked by turmoil since long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, and multiple foreign powers are now involved.
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The GNA in Tripoli has been under attack since last April from forces loyal to Haftar, which on January 6 captured the strategic coastal city of Sirte.

Influence of military commanders rising in Libya

The signing of the agreement will pave the way for the revival of the political process, said Libya’s head of High Council of State Khaled al-Mechri on the country’s al-Ahrar TV channel.
Mechri said he would accompany Sarraj to Moscow, while parliament speaker Aguila Salah would travel with Haftar. Sarraj on Monday called on Libyans to “turn the page on the past”, as he prepared to sign the agreement. “I call on all Libyans to turn the page on the past, reject discord and to close ranks to move towards stability and peace,” he said in a short televised speech.
The GNA and Haftar’s LNA agreed to a conditional truce that was supposed to come into force at midnight local time on Sunday (22:01 GMT on Saturday), but both sides have accused the other of violations.

SOURCE:
AFP news agency

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Rival Libyan administrations hold talks in Morocco |NationalTribune.com

Delegates from Libya’s rival administrations met for talks in Morocco more than two weeks after the two sides announced a surprise ceasefire. The meeting, held on Sunday at the initiative of Morocco, which hosted peace talks in 2015 that led to the creation of a United Nations-recognised government for Libya, kicked off in the coastal…

Rival Libyan administrations hold talks in Morocco |NationalTribune.com

Delegates from Libya’s rival administrations met for talks in Morocco more than two weeks after the two sides announced a surprise ceasefire.
The meeting, held on Sunday at the initiative of Morocco, which hosted peace talks in 2015 that led to the creation of a United Nations-recognised government for Libya, kicked off in the coastal town of Bouznika, south of Rabat.
Dubbed “Libyan Dialogue”, the talks brought together five members of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and five from a parliament in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk.
The discussions were a prelude to a major meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, on Monday and Tuesday that brings together the leaders of rival Libyan groups.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, in remarks before Sunday’s meeting got under way, said his country was offering Libyans “space” to discuss points of contention dividing them.
“The kingdom is ready to provide Libyans with a space to discuss [issues], according to their will, and will applaud them regardless of the outcome,” Bourita said.
“Morocco has no agenda or initiative to submit” to the two sides, Bourita added.
A solution to Libya’s crisis must be decided by the Libyans themselves under the auspices of the United Nations, he said, before delegates met behind closed doors.
Beaten back
Libya has endured about 10 years of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
The crisis worsened last year when renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar – who backs the Tobruk parliament and is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia – launched an offensive to seize the capital Tripoli from the GNA.

Haftar was beaten back earlier this year by Turkish-backed GNA forces and fighting has now stalled around the Mediterranean city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s eastern oilfields and export terminals.
On August 22, the rival administrations announced separately they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections, drawing praise from world powers.
Peter Millett, a former British ambassador to Libya, said the rival sides talking was a good first step, but there is much work to do to achieve lasting peace.
“First of all, it needs the buy-in of broader group of political players – tribal leaders, society leaders, municipal leaders. Secondly, it needs the buy-in from the military factions, particularly Haftar, and it has to be a genuine ceasefire,” Millett told Al Jazeera. “Thirdly, it needs the buy-in of the entire international community.”
‘Foreign players’
Mohamed Chtatou, a professor at Mohammed V University in Rabat, said Sunday’s talks were “historic in many ways” and likely touched on possible appointees for a future government and key positions, including head of the Central Bank of Libya, chairman of the National Oil Corporation, and the prosecutor general. 
“This meeting is good for the reunification of Libya and bringing the country back on its feet,” Chtatou told Al Jazeera. “I’m sure the foreign players are not happy about what is happening because they all have their stakes in Libya. The Libyans want peace and it’s Libyans talking to Libyans – so that is very important.” 

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Tripoli, said the fact that Haftar is not represented at the meeting does not mean he is excluded.
“In fact, the delegation representing the Tobruk-based parliament is considered in one way or another the political arm of Haftar’s forces on the ground. So the Tobruk-based parliament, which is affiliated to the warlord Khalifa Haftar, is now representing Haftar’s view in the meeting in Morocco,” he said.
Delegates from the two sides will also meet other factions, including political parties and remnants of Gaddafi’s regime, for talks brokered by the European Union and the UN mission (UNSMIL) in Switzerland starting on Monday.
Sunday’s meeting in Morocco coincided with closed-door talks in Istanbul between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj, the Turkish presidency said.
During the meeting, Erdogan stated Turkey will “continue to stand in solidarity with Libya’s UN-recognised legitimate government, and reiterated that Turkey’s priority is to restore Libya’s stability, without further delay”, a statement said.”Libya’s peace and stability would benefit its neighbours and the entire region, starting with Europe,” said Erdogan. “The international community ought to assume a principled stance in that regard.”
Future settlement ‘complicated’
At a January summit in Berlin, the main countries involved in the Libyan conflict agreed to respect an arms embargo and to stop interfering in Libya’s domestic affairs.
But on Wednesday, the interim UN envoy for Libya, Stephanie Williams, denounced what she called “blatant” ongoing violations of the arms embargo in the North African country.
According to an interim report from UN experts, “the arms embargo remains totally ineffective” and violations are “extensive, blatant and with complete disregard for the sanctions”.
Williams said UNSMIL was also receiving reports of the “large-scale presence of foreign mercenaries and operatives” in Libya, adding this complicates chances of a future settlement.

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Libyan official: Egypt’s president ‘beating the drums of war’ |NationalTribune.com

Libya’s internationally recognised government has denounced Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s threats of military intervention, saying his comments were akin to “beating the drums of war”. El-Sisi on Saturday warned forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli not to cross the current front line between them and forces loyal to renegade commander Khalifa…

Libyan official: Egypt’s president ‘beating the drums of war’ |NationalTribune.com

Libya’s internationally recognised government has denounced Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s threats of military intervention, saying his comments were akin to “beating the drums of war”.
El-Sisi on Saturday warned forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli not to cross the current front line between them and forces loyal to renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, whom Cairo backs.
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The Egyptian president, who visited an airbase in Matrouh near the Libyan border, alluded to the possibility of sending “external military missions if required” adding that “any direct intervention in Libya has already become legitimate internationally”.
Abdurrahman Shater, a member of the GNA-allied Libyan High Council of State, said his country’s security and democracy have been in danger since el-Sisi insisted on bringing in military troops that Libyans did not accept.
“Take your hands off us, do not repeat the tragedy in Yemen,” he tweeted.
Shater also said Egypt has intervened in Libya’s internal affairs for four years.

كلمة السيسي امام حشد من جيشه على مقربة من الحدود قرع لطبول الحرب مصر تدخلت طيلة 4 سنوات نكرها وإدعى حرصه على أمن #ليبيا . أمن ليبيا في خطر منذ اصراركم على تقويض الديمقراطية و تنصيب عسكري رفضنا سيده و أسقطناه. ارفعوا أيديكم عنا. و لا تكرروا ماساتكم في اليمن.
— Abdurrahman Shater (@alshater1939) June 20, 2020

Translation: El-Sisi’s speech in front of a crowd of his army near the border is beating the drums of war. Egypt has intervened for four years, which he denied and claimed his concern for Libya’s security. Libya’s security has been in danger since Egypt’s insistence on undermining democracy and installing a military man whose master we have previously rejected and brought down. Take your hands off us. And do not repeat your tragedy in Yemen.
El-Sisi told his army to “be prepared to carry out any mission here within our borders, or if necessary outside our borders”.
“Sirte and Jufra are a red line,” he said.

Conflict in Libya: Another initiative

Forces loyal to the GNA, which is headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, have driven Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) from large swaths of territory in the west of the country as well as strategic towns near the capital, Tripoli.
GNA forces have now launched a campaign, moving eastwards, to capture the Mediterranean city of Sirte from forces loyal to Haftar, who was forced to offer a ceasefire after facing a string of defeats in recent weeks.
The ceasefire, backed by Cairo, has been rejected by the GNA and its backer Ankara, which on Saturday demanded that the LNA withdraw from Sirte.
The Egyptian president stressed “any direct interference from Egypt [in Libya] has now acquired international legitimacy, either with the right to self-defence or at the request of the only legitimate elected authority in Libya, which is the House of Representatives [Tobruk].”
With Turkish support, the GNA has reversed a 14-month assault on the capital by the forces loyal to Haftar, who is backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have expressed their support for the Egyptian president’s statements.
“Saudi Arabia stands by and supports Egypt on the right to protect its borders and people,” Saudi Arabia official news agency said in a statement.
Additionally, the UAE foreign ministry said it supports all actions by Egypt to ensure its stability and security.
The LNA still controls eastern and southern Libya, including most of the country’s oil facilities, and the city of Sirte, at the centre of a recent military escalation.
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Libyan government says it entered Haftar stronghold Tarhuna |NationalTribune.com

Forces loyal to Libya’s internationally recognised government said on Friday they entered Tarhuna, the last major stronghold of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar in the west, capping the sudden collapse of his 14-month offensive on the capital. Haftar’s self-style Libyan National Army (LNA) was pushed from its last positions in Tripoli a day earlier, the…

Libyan government says it entered Haftar stronghold Tarhuna |NationalTribune.com

Forces loyal to Libya’s internationally recognised government said on Friday they entered Tarhuna, the last major stronghold of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar in the west, capping the sudden collapse of his 14-month offensive on the capital.
Haftar’s self-style Libyan National Army (LNA) was pushed from its last positions in Tripoli a day earlier, the latest of in a series of battlefield defeats.
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Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed – reporting from Tarhuna, 75km (47 miles) east of Tripoli – said the city’s loss was a major blow to the LNA as Tarhuna was the main launchpad for the offensive against the capital.
“From here, Haftar’s forces had a central command for the past year, and from here Russian military experts – with UAE and Egyptian military experts – have been running the battles,” he said as militiamen fired assault weapons in celebration.
Government forces now may target the Haftar-controlled city of Bani Walid to the south, said Abdelwahed.
Turkey’s backing has helped the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) win a string of victories in recent weeks, ending the assault on Tripoli that led to battles in its southern suburbs and the bombardment of the city centre.
The GNA operations room said its forces had reached the centre of Tarhuna after entering from four sides.

“Our heroic forces entered the city of Tarhuna from four axes and reached the city centre … and they gave the Haftar terrorist militia a lesson they will not forget,” said Mohammed Gnounou, a GNA military spokesman, in a statement.
Mostafa al-Majai, another GNA military spokesman, said government forces entered Tarhuna without a fight after the LNA pulled out of the city into the desert.
“No reprisal acts have taken place inside the city. A large number of residents left it days ago. This has made it easy to establish security there,” he said.
‘No reprisal acts’ 
Libya’s conflict is far from over, however, with the LNA still controlling the country’s east, where there is a parallel administration, and large parts of the south, where the main oilfields are located.
The LNA is backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt. The United Nations has warned a recent flood of weapons and fighters to both sides in Libya risks a major new escalation.
GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj vowed his government would take control over all of Libya.
“Our fight continues and we are determined to defeat the enemy, impose state control on the whole of the homeland and destroy all those who jeopardise the construction of a civil, democratic and modern state,” al-Sarraj said after talks with Turkish officials in Ankara.

‘Humanitarian gesture’
Sami Hamdi, The International Interest’s editor-in-chief, told Al Jazeera the Tarhuna’s fall may have been “a negotiated exchange between the Russians and the Turks”.
“In terms of its significance, it means the complete end of Haftar’s Tripoli offensive. The military solution that Haftar offered … is no longer on the table, and we are back to the status quo as it was before the beginning of the Tripoli offensive, east and west,” Hamdi said. 
Meanwhile, Haftar’s forces confirmed their “redeployment” away from the capital following the UN-recognised government’s announcement on Thursday it was back in full control of the Greater Tripoli areas.

Libya’s GNA says it regained full control of the capital, Tripoli

Haftar’s spokesman, Ahmad al-Mesmari, said the redeployment was a “humanitarian gesture intended to spare the Libyan people further bloodshed”.
Hundreds of people have been killed and 200,000 more driven from their homes since Haftar launched his assault, pledging to “cleanse” the capital of the “terrorist militias” he said dominated the GNA.
Al-Mesmari said the redeployment was also intended to bolster the work of a UN-backed military commission tasked with shoring up a nationwide ceasefire.
“We announce that we are redeploying our forces outside Tripoli on condition that the other side respect the ceasefire,” he said in a statement released late on Thursday.
“If they do not respect it, we will resume military operations and suspend our participation in the negotiations of the military committee.”
The UN’s Libya mission said on Tuesday that after a three-month suspension, the warring parties had agreed to resume ceasefire talks.
A military commission made up of five GNA loyalists and five Haftar delegates held talks in February, but the dialogue was suspended.
UN experts in April said hundreds of mercenaries from Russian paramilitary organisation the Wagner Group were fighting for Haftar.
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