After defeat in western Libya, Sisi proposes salvation political solution for Haftar

Monday, 08 Jun, 2020

Fighting has continued between forces loyal to the UN-recognized interim government in the west and those based in the east led by General Khalifa Haftar. But his appeal, supported by France at the weekend, looked like a belated conciliatory act forced upon Egypt by the self-evident collapse of Haftar's project to capture Tripoli.

Pro-GNA forces said that in recent clashes they had "neutralised" 10 enemy militia fighters, hit armoured vehicles and shot down a Chinese-made Wing Loong drone.

A man holds a poster of Eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar.

That language reflects the LNA's narrative of restoring order over western Libya's many disparate armed groups, and is likely to antagonise its rivals.

Tarhuna was a major focal point for supply lines for Haftar's militias from Jufra airbase.

"In these historic moments, we announce that all municipal boundaries of Tripoli have been liberated", he proclaimed.

Tarhuna was the main rear base for the devastating offensive against the capital that eastern-based Haftar's forces finally gave up this week, abandoning their remaining positions in the southern suburbs to advancing government troops.

He has been backed by powers including Russian Federation, the United Arab Emirates and neighbouring Egypt with aircraft, high-tech weapons and mercenaries. Sissi urged both sides to resume dialogue.

Turkish military support for the GNA was key to its recent successes. He urges Sissi to increase efforts to oblige Turkey to stop sending mercenaries and weapons to Libya.

The GNA seemed poised to reject Egypt's proposals, which included a ceasefire from Monday and a longer-term peace plan, but its war with Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) in the east still seems far from over.

He said GNA forces were closing in on Tarhouna, a strategic town south of the capital used by Haftar's forces.

"Our heroic forces have extended their control over the whole of Tarhuna", said GNA spokesman Mohamad Gnounou.

At present Turkey looks like the victor from last year's fighting since the decision of its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to give overt backing to the GNA in defiance of an United Nations arms embargo has paid off. Turkey said it was now in line to win reconstruction contracts, access to gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, and even a slice of Libyan oil reserves.

"There can be no stability in Libya unless peaceful means to the crisis are found that include the unity and integrity of the national institutions", Mr el-Sisi said.

Wolfram Lacher of the German Institute for global and Security Affairs said the Egyptian plan was aimed at "cutting Haftar down to size" by expanding the role of Aguila Saleh.

Haftar is a deeply divisive figure whose offensive upended a United Nations -led peace process, and it is unclear how much traction any initiative proposed by him or his allies could gain. It is unclear how much traction any initiative proposed by him or his allies can gain.

Al-Sisi's plan includes the formation of a presidential council in which Libya's three regions would be represented.