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DECEMBER 2020

Berlin Summit Participants Agree On ‘Comprehensive Plan’ To Resolve Libyan Conflict. Can It Work?

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Berlin Summit Participants Agree On 'Comprehensive Plan' To Resolve Libyan Conflict. Can It Work?

IMAGE: kremlin.ru

The participants of the Berlin summit have agreed on a comprehensive settlement plan for the Libyan conflict, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on January 19.

Merkel made her announcement in a press conference following the end of the talks, which were attended by high representatives from Russia, Algeria, the UK, Egypt, the UAE, China, Turkey, France and the U.S.

“We had very intense consultations here in Berlin. And we managed to make a contribution, give a new impetus to the political process in Libya, to bring peace to the country and the Libyan people. I believe that the conference in Berlin supported the UN-sponsored peace process”, Sputnik quoted the German Chancellor as saying.

Merkel said that the representatives of warring factions in Libya agreed to form a five-by-five military commissions. She added that the agreement reached in the summit will be approved by the UN Security Council, thus becoming a part of the political settlement process.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reports after attending the summit that it was on Russia’s initiative that the representatives of the two major warring factions in Libya were invited to the talks in Berlin.

“It would eventually be up to Libyans themselves to engage in a genuine and meaningful dialogue that would eventually help Libya overcome its current crisis,” Lavrov added, according to RT.

Libya’s biggest two factions, the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Government of National Accord (GNA), have not yet commented on the outcome of the summit. Lavrov described the Berlin conference as as “small step” ahead and added that the GNA and the LNA should approve the reached agreements. It should be noted that representatives of the GNA and the LNA hold no direct talks in Berlin.

LNA’s Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar is set to visit Moscow following the Berlin press conference, where he will hold talks on the ongoing efforts to settle the Libyan conflict.

The fact that the Berlin document will have to be approved by the UN Security Council makes the Libyan peace process dependent on other geopolitical issues. On top of that, the unconditional ceasefire goes against interests of the LNA, which has an upper hand in an open military confrontation with the GNA. Haftar may regret that he agreed to participate in the Berlin negotiations format, where he faced a joint pressure from Western powers involved in the conflict.

Restrained remarks by Germany and other powers involved demonstrate that the real achievements of the Berlin format are much smaller than Merkel and other Western powers try to demonstrate. Even if all the sides involved really want to achieve peace, the implementation of proposed peace efforts will be a very complicated task.

Italy already declared that it’s ready to send forces to particiapte in operations to monitor the ceasefire. However, it remains unclear in what kind of monitoring operation Italy wants to participate. For example, in soft conditions of eastern Europe, peace-monitoring operations in the Ukraine conflict zone by the OSCE demonstrated the lack of any success. Therefore, it is hard to imagine such an operation in the conditions of the modern Libya.

Other topics in question are the arms embargo and foreign military involvement. Right now, Turkey is actively deploying its proxy forces from Syria to Libya and sending military equipment to Libya. If the LNA supporters turn a blind eye to this and halt own supplies, the GNA will use this to strengthen its positions and make another attempt to shift the balance of power in the area of Tripoli. As to the military involvement of foreign powers, it’s hard to imagine that any foreign force deployed – Turkish, French or Italian – will voluntarily withdraw from the country and allow its competitors to fill the created vacuum.

The Berlin conference led to no breakthrough in the Libyan peace process. It demonstrated that the country has become a part of the ongoing regional military and political standoff and now its future is strongly linked to actions of foreign players involved in the conflict.

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