Algeria hosts neighbours over Libya war, as rivals refuse to meet

Algeria hosts neighbours over Libya war, as rivals refuse to meet
Algeria tries to lead a peace process with Libya's warring factions and organised a meeting with key allies in the region to discuss the crisis, with little success.
3 min read
23 January, 2020
Tebboune is vying for control over the Libya peace process [Getty]

Algeria hosted a meeting with Libya’s neighbouring countries, including Egypt and Tunisia in an attempt to end the crisis in the country, even as Fayez Al-Sarraj says he does not have a “real partner” in brokering peace in Libya as neither he nor Khalifa Haftar met at the Berlin conference. 

Foreign ministers from Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Algeria, Tunisia and Mali travelled to the capital of Algiers following the peace summit in Berlin aimed at solidifying a ceasefire.

Despite being directly concerned by the conflict in Libya next door and known to be a neutral actor, Tunisia was oddly still not invited to attend the conference, while a number of African and Middle Eastern states participated.

Algeria's government said the meeting was aimed at “consolidating coordination between countries neighboring Libya and international players to accompany Libyans in reviving the political settlement process" and to help Libya build solid institutions and restore stability.

The meeting comes after German Chancellor organised an emergency summit in Berlin to discuss Libya and its factions.

Read More: Haftar at the gates: How Libya's crisis forced Algeria to come out of diplomatic hibernation

However Fayez Al-Sarraj, head of the UN-supported Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) has expressed doubts over international aid in his cause, and batted away an attempt by the UAE to support the Kahlifa Haftar and his militia. 

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"We do not have common borders with the UAE, and this raises our suspicions about its hidden goals in our country," asserted Al-Sarraj in an interview with Al Jazeera TV on Monday.

"We have cautious optimism following the Berlin Conference, as the other side does not adhere to its pledges," explaining that "we do not have a real partner for moving forward with a peace process in Libya".

Germany's top diplomat was also taking part in the meeting in Algeria after his country hosted a Libya peace summit on Sunday.

Heiko Maas said international actors must maintain "persistent pressure" on the warring parties in Libya to ensure the temporary truce can become a stable ceasefire.

Maas said Sunday's summit managed to win support from "key actors" for efforts to end the proxy conflict, nine years after long-term Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was deposed.

Germany's top diplomat said his country would support efforts by the United Nations to harden a tentative truce through a meeting between representatives of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, the head of the Tripoli government, and Haftar, whose forces control much of the rest of the country.

"For this the persistent pressure of all international partners on the conflict parties is required," Maas said.

Haftar, pictured above, did not meet with al-Sarraj in Berlin [Getty]

This may prove difficult as Merkel, who organised the summit, said Al-Sarraj and Haftar were briefed on discussions but did not take part or meet each other.

In an interview with Reuters, Al-Sarraj announced that Libya: "Will face a catastrophic situation if foreign powers do not pressure Haftar to stop the siege on oil fields that almost stopped the production of crude oil."

Haftar's forces, which control the east and much of the south, receive support from the UAE and Egypt, as well as France and Russia. The Tripoli-based government is backed by Turkey and to a lesser degree Qatar and Italy.

Basic questions about a concrete political process remain unresolved, and though President Abdelmajdid Tebboune has expressed an intention to lead the peace process, critics argue it is nothing more than lip service and an attempt to give his presidency legitimacy, which remains contested in his country and is the target of weekly protests.

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