Berlin conference gives Libyans space for political reconciliation

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Two deserted helmets are seen near Libya's capital city of Tripoli, on March 11, 2015. Clashes erupted on Wednesday between Libya Dawn militants and pro-government forces in the Ajaylat area some 80 kilometers west of Tripoli. (Xinhua/Hamza Turkia)
Two deserted helmets are seen near Libya's capital city of Tripoli, on March 11, 2015. Clashes erupted on Wednesday between Libya Dawn militants and pro-government forces in the Ajaylat area some 80 kilometers west of Tripoli. (Xinhua/Hamza Turkia)

Countries concerned with Libya’s long-running conflict agreed in Berlin summit to stop military support to the warring parties while a cease-fire lasts, a step seen by analysts as a glimmer of hope to give Libyans space for a political reconciliation.

Leaders of Libya’s warring sides and foreign powers met Sunday in Berlin to discuss ways to end the conflict in the oil-rich North African country.

“We all agree that we should respect the arms embargo and that the arms embargo should be controlled more strongly than it has been in the past,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during the summit.

But expectations remain low that these talks will lead to any kind of a lasting peace on the ground in the near future with some reports revealed that rebel forces launched fresh attacks on the Libyan capital Tripoli.

“Despite the gathering failed to persuade the rival sides to agree to a lasting cease-fire, the summit in Berlin was a breakthrough in the frozen political talks in Libya,” said Tariq Fahmy, a professor of international relations at Cairo University.

It wasn’t expected that Berlin will end up with swift solutions for Libyan situation that has been further complicated recently by foreign interventions, Fahmy told Xinhua.

Activating the UN arms embargo and stopping military support to Libya’s conflicted factions takes long time on real ground, he added.

“Berlin summit is a modest advance for restoring unity, rebuilding strong army and institutions in Libya that Egypt has been calling for,” he added.

Still there are serious concerns raised over the expansion of militia and mercenaries on the borders with Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia, but Fahmy stressed that Egypt has taken important precautionary measures including the establishment of Mohammed Naguib military base at the Mediterranean Sea.

It’s too early to speak about ending the Libyan crisis, he said, noting that Egyptian diplomatic paths have found good echo from the concerned parties in and beyond the region.

Megahed al-Zayat, vice chairman of the National Center for the Middle East Studies said all scenarios are on table for political settlement in Libya and Berlin conference was “a step forward.”

“Now, there is an international persistence to find solution for the Libyan conflict and the world’s interests in the country are surpassing its domestic affairs,” he told Xinhua.

Europe wouldn’t keep silence on possible infiltration of migrants or terrorists to its lands as happened before in the Syrian crisis, the political expert pointed out.

He agrees that Berlin gathering has achieved some of Egypt’s ambitions especially the arms embargo which could be a base for protecting the Egyptian national security.

The Libyan conflict has festered for nearly nine years, following the ouster and death of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, splitting the power between two rival governments: the UN-recognized, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Serraj and another in northeastern city of Tobruk allied with self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.

The United States and Europe have stayed on the sideline. But the conflict that escalated in 2014 began to attract the international attention when Libya became a gateway for tens of thousands of migrants in 2015 and 2016.

Also, the recent involvement of Russia and Turkey has created a new urgency for peace efforts.

Russia, France, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt are backing Hafter. Turkey, Italy and Qatar are defending the internationally recognized government in the capital. Enditem

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