Negotiations over Libya’s Tense Atmosphere

Is it possible to have a cease-fire in the ongoing Libyan civil war?

April 21st, 2016

Clashes between militias erupted in Tripoli on the evening of Saturday, April 16th, while the Libyan capital remained calm since the unexpected arrival on March 30th of Faiez Sarraj, the "Prime Minister" of a government of "national unity," actively supported by the United Nations. Fighting has engulfed a district of the city, Hay Andalous, just after a few hours of the express visit to Tripoli of the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, and the German Foreign Minister, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The two European ministers came to express their support to Mr. Sarraj, who remains blocked with his team of the Presidential Council in the naval base of Abu Sitta, waiting to take possession of the ministries. They are still held by the de facto government of Tripoli, not recognized by the international community, from the old political-military bloc called Dawn of Libya, whose "Prime Minister", Khalifa Ghweil refuses to cede power to Mr. Sarraj.

Saturday night's clashes have shown as a result two deaths, according to unofficial sources, which occurred near the home of Ahmed Maetig, the Presidential Council Vice-President and Prime Minister during two brief months (May-June 2014).

The circumstances of the clashes remained unclear Sunday morning. It was still not clear whether the home of Mr. Maetig was specifically targeted by the militia of Mr. Tajouri or if the incident stemmed from an argument between the two groups around the checkpoints to control this exclusive neighborhood in Tripoli.

Saturday night incidents illustrate the fragility of the scenario that strives to promote the United Nations and Western capitals. These actors have not managed diplomatic efforts to install the government of "national unity" of Mr. Sarraj, in order to stabilize a country, which has been in chaos since the summer of 2014. Therefore, there is an instability that facilitates the establishment of the organization of the Islamic State and allows the intensification of migration flows to Europe.

The main weakness of the government of Mr. Sarraj is that at this stage the government is technically illegal. The elected Parliament in June 2014 and retreated in Tobruk has not still formally nominated Mr. Sarraj as a Prime Minister.

In this context, the block of the militia who had supported Mr. Sarraj during its landing at the naval base in Abu Sitta, runs the risk of cracking. The issue of security of Mr. Sarraj’s team in Tripoli will gain in acuity, since was initially not an issue of urgency in the initial euphoria surrounding his arrival and public opinion had been greeting him with relief. Indeed, Saturday night's clashes resound like a sharp alarm.

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Cultural Diplomacy News
Adam Slezak, CD News