In Libya, the troops of renegade General Chalifa Haftar now want to adhere to a ceasefire proposed by Turkey and Russia. Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) announced in a short statement that it should begin at midnight on Sunday. However, it warned of a "harsh reaction" if the government forces fighting against it violated the ceasefire.
Haftar had refused the ceasefire two days earlier. Haftar said his troops would continue to fight against government soldiers, their allies and "terrorists." Libya will only find stability once the "terrorist groups" and militias that control the capital, Tripoli, are defeated.
Recognized government controls little more than Tripoli
Turkey and Russia called for a ceasefire in the North African state of crisis on Wednesday. The internationally recognized but practically powerless government in Tripoli had welcomed the initiative, but left it open whether it would stick to it. Prime Minister Fajis al-Sarradsch called the withdrawal of Haftar's troops as a condition when he visited Rome. The day before, Haftar had conquered the city of Sirte in the east of Tripoli.
The Libyan government controls little more than the areas around Tripoli and relies on the help of numerous local militias. The majority of the country, including the oil reserves in the east, is controlled by Haftar, which the counter-government MP in Tobruk appointed as the chief commander of his troops in 2015. Haftar is supported by Russia, the USA and France, while Italy, Germany, the EU and Turkey, which will soon be active with its own troops in Libya, stand by the government in Tripoli.
Germany wants to host Libya summit
In order to increase the likelihood of a political solution and to implement an arms embargo, Germany wants to organize a conference in Berlin of all foreign powers involved in Libya. Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Moscow was supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He anticipated the ceasefire: he expected the fighting to end "within a few hours," he said.
The Libyan civil war has been going on since 2014. A few years after the overthrow of long-time ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi, representatives of various political groups were unable to agree on a new political system despite the organization of a 2014 parliamentary election. Since then they have been fighting each other. In addition to the government of al-Sarradsch and Haftar, numerous local tribal militias and at times IS terrorists are also active in the fighting. Almost 10,000 people have died since the beginning of the civil war.