Libya expert Emadeddin Badi writes that foreign powers such as Russia and Turkey are fuelling the Libyan civil war, and have no real interest to help the sides reach a power-sharing agreement. Despite assurances and promises made in Berlin, the UN warns that virtually all the actors supplying the warring sides with arms prior to the cease-fire efforts are still doing so. The truce has, essentially, collapsed and the conflict has become fully internationalised. Turkey’s efforts to connect its moves in the Eastern Mediterranean to Libya have now dragged Athens into the conflict, indirectly, leading the EU to becoming increasingly critical of and distant from the GNA, as France has long backed Haftar to begin with. Badi claims that due to this dynamic, Europe has lost all credibility as a mediator for the Libya crisis at a time when Europe’s involvement is crucial.
The lack of European and American commitment and consistency has allowed Turkey and Russia to step in and fill this void, while the UAE sends more arms for Haftar, working to balance Turkey’s increased efforts. Libya’s future, he writes, has really been hijacked according to Turkish, Russian and Emirati interests and not Libya’s or Europe’s.
At this time, he points out that Turkey and Russia’s interests have converged and they are pushing a cease-fire that suits their own interests, turning their military and political investments into economic and strategic gains. The UAE’s own interests must also be taken into account. We will add that this goes along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, who prop up Haftar as a force willing to take on Islamists – ISIS, Al-Qaeda and others.
Badi suggests that what could result is some temporary stability in which the foreign powers agree to apportion Libya’s various assets, essentially spheres of influence - basically split up the country. This would grant economic contracts, energy infrastructure, naval ports and air bases to each foreign power in their part of Libya. With this possible outcome in mind, the Libya crisis will never truly be solved as the various foreign powers don’t see a need to end it, quite the opposite.
We agree with Badi’s assessment. We have written multiple times on this site that the European powers and United States, working with the UN, must take a firm lead in ending the Libya crisis. Those powers currently involved in Libya, and who are increasingly expanding their role at the expense of the European powers, must reinvest in Libya, using much stronger diplomatic and economic tools to pressure Turkey, Russia and others to cease their interference. Sanctions on those breaking the arms embargo or on those sending mercenaries would be a useful and necessary next step in this regard.
Perhaps if the fighting parties realise their international backing is going down and not up as it currently is, they would be more induced to return to the table and reach an equitable solution for all Libyans.