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Ceasefire in war-torn Libya: As countries hail it, Haftar’s backers jump on the bandwagon

After the announcement of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) of a ceasefire and end of hostilities across Libya, as well as a similar agreement announced by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), many international actors and Libya stakeholders rushed to welcome and hail the agreement as a way out of the ongoing war in the country.

US Blessing

The US said via its embassy in Libya that Washington welcomes the statements from the Head of the PResidential Council Fayez Al-Sarraj, and HoR Speaker Aqila Saleh as important steps for all Libyans, adding that the US will have more to say soon.

UN Hopes

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has also hailed the agreement as the acting envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams warmly welcomed the points of agreement in the declarations issued today by Al-Serraj and Saleh.

Williams said in a statement on Friday that the agreement demonstrated the courage which Libya is in urgent need of during these trying times. She said the call for a ceasefire came in the hope that such a step would be taken up quickly by the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, with the departure of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libyan soil.

The acting envoy of the UN in Libya urged the rapid implementation of the call for the resumption of oil production and export according to the directions outlined in the two statements.

Williams reiterated that depriving the Libyan people of their oil wealth is a sign of unacceptable stubbornness on the part of the local and international actors involved.

She called for all parties to rise to this historic occasion and shoulder their full responsibilities before the Libyan people, noting that the two initiatives have created hope for forging a peaceful political solution to the longstanding Libyan crisis, a solution that will affirm the desire of the Libyan people to live in peace and dignity.

UN Secretary-General

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the calls for a ceasefire and an end to hostilities in Libya, hoping they “will be respected immediately by armed forces from both sides,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Guterres urged the Joint Military Commission to quickly take up the ceasefire call and called on all parties “to engage constructively in an inclusive political process” based on the outcome of a conference of world leaders in Berlin in January, Dujarric said.

Egypt Jumps on the Bandwagon

The Egyptian President, who has been backing up warlord Haftar and his war against civilians and legitimacy in Tripoli and across the eastern region since 2014, hailed the ceasefire agreement for end of hostilities across Libya.

Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said on Facebook that the ceasefire in Libya would be an important step to settle the differences and end the conflicts among Libyan parties so that the Libyan people can regain stability, security and prosperity.

UK Stresses: No Military Solution

The United Kingdom, via its embassy in Libya, has praised the ceasefire announcement of Al-Sarraj and Saleh, saying there can be no military solution to the Libyan conflict.

The UK also indicated that all Libyan parties, inside the country or outside it, should be fully committed to the ceasefire and end of hostilities agreement.

Qatar Calls for Sincere Political Dialogue

The Qatari Foreign Ministry hailed the agreement and called for consolidation of the ceasefire across the while country.

The Qatari Foreign Ministry added in a statement Friday that it hoped all Libyan parties would commit to the ceasefire announcement by resuming the political process without exclusion of any Libyan social or political components.

Qatari Defense Minister Visited Tripoli August 17, 2020

Qatar also called for ending the blockade on Libyan oil production and exports that has been slapped by warlord Haftar since last January.

“We urge Libyans to commit to the Skhirat Agreement, which Doha supports, and we call on the Libyan parties to preserve the sovereignty and unity of their country.” The Qatari Foreign Ministry said.

Germany, Italy Hopeful for Political Change

The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas — who visited Tripoli on Monday to talk with the GNA — welcomed the development. He called it a “solid basis for a permanent ceasefire” and urged a lifting of the oil blockade.

German Foreign Minister held presser in Tripoli on August 17, 2020

While the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, said in a tweet that the ceasefire announcement was an “important step toward restarting a political process that favors stability in the country and well-being among its people.”

EU Calls for Commitment

European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell hailed the announcement of the ceasefire as an “important and positive” initiative, adding it was “crucial now that all parties stand by their statements”.

Algeria and Canada: Political Progress Needed

Algeria has also welcomed the step in a phone call between the Foreign Minister, Sabri Boukadoum, with his Libyan counterpart Mohammed Sayala.

Algeria called for the need to implement the Libyan Political Agreement of Skhirat as soon as possible.

In the meantime, the Canadian embassy in Libya hailed the ceasefire agreement in Libya and urged all parties in the country to cease all hostilities and resume political dialogue.

Will Ceasefire Last This Time?

The whole agreement at face value seems a bit murky, given the surprise of it amid weeks of military build up and mobilization from both the GNA and the Russian-UAE-France-backed warlord Haftar’s militias around Sirte and Jufra.

Will this time be different? It could be and one window of negotiations could be the old time Skhirat resort in Morocco so that we have an easy-on-the-ear agreement for all parties in Libya: Skhirat Agreement II.

But some analysts, like Jalel Harchaoui, a Libya expert at the Clingendael Institute, a think tank in The Hague, are a bit skeptical about how fast this could be interpreted on the ground.

“You need more than a piece of paper to make it happen,” said Jalel Harchaoui, adding: “If you look at it as the starting point of something that is going to be very laborious and maybe positive and slow, then it should be hailed as a piece of good news.

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