The continued fighting taking place in Libya between the two local forces competing for power and their apparent inability or unwillingness to cooperate has put the country in the middle of what has become a complex international conflict with no future positive prospects.
With a growing international fear about the Libyan conflict, world leaders have gathered in Berlin to try and find a way to end the fighting between the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Saraj and the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar. The conference’s aim was to get foreign powers to stop intervening in the war, to uphold an arms embargo and to nominate a UN ceasefire monitoring body – but concerns over the unwillingness to abide by these agreements are ever-growing.
With the intervention of foreign powers in the conflict, the conflict in Libya can no longer be seen as a binary Haftar vs Tripoli one. Among other parties, the GNA has the support of Turkey and Syrian rebel militants and the LNA has the support of Russia and its military private contractors as well as Sudanese militias. Since 2011, Libya has been the clear example of continued foreign interference and therefore consequent fragmentation of the security sector in Libya but also in the already fragile region.
In a parliamentary vote, Turkey decided to come to the aid of the GNA, which was followed by the deployment of Turkish troops and an additional 2,000 Syrian fighters. On the other side, the LNA is receiving support from Sudanese rebel groups from Darfur, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) together with the Russian private military contractor Wagner. Adding more fighting factions to a conflict is like adding oil to the fire – the presence of these forces has been met with clashes between local militias or minorities and the foreign militias.
The participation of external proxy forces with both the GNA and the LNA not only shows the fragility of states in the region but also their reliance on foreign manpower and therefore the exacerbation of the conflict. Thus, it is evident that peace in Libya depends on foreign actors’ readiness to give room for alternative political manoueuvres.
Until we see an end to meaningless and precarious foreign presence, meddling and financing, there will be no meaningful political talks that will pull Haftar from Tripoli and therefore peace will remain highly improbable.