Libya: Marshal Haftar Announces Ramadan Truce

  • The competing "Government of National Accord," that controls the capital, Tripoli, has no comment on this announcement.
  • The UAE today called on all Libyan parties to adhere to the political process supervised by the United Nations to end the war.
  • Since the beginning of his offensive, Haftar has declared a truce several times.

The leader of one of the belligerents in the ongoing conflict in Libya has announced a truce during the month of Ramadan. After two similar announcements were launched this year, the leader of the “Libyan National Army,” Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, announced Wednesday night “the cessation of all military operations” of the forces loyal to him on the occasion of the month of Ramadan.

Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar is a Libyan-American military officer and the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), which, under Haftar’s leadership, replaced nine elected municipal councils by military administrators, and as of May 2019, was engaged in the Second Libyan Civil War.

The competing “Government of National Accord,” that controls the capital, Tripoli, has no comment on this announcement. Ramadan began on April 24 in Libya. “The General Command announces the cessation of all military operations on its part,” said Major General Ahmed Al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the LNA from Benghazi.

However, journalists from AFP stated that explosions were still being heard in central Tripoli after the announcement. Al-Mesmari said that this truce was announced “in response to calls from brotherly and friendly countries that demand an end to the fighting.” However, he warned that “the response would be immediate and harsh” to “any breakthrough to stop military operations.”

UAE Reiterates Support for Political Process

In a related context, the UAE today called on all Libyan parties to adhere to the political process supervised by the United Nations to end the war. At the same time, the UAE “commends the Libyan National Army for conducting anti-terror operations,” and expressed “its categorical rejection of the Turkish military intervention” in support of the rival GNA.

The statement further condemned Turkey, “which impedes the chances of a cease-fire and aborts the efforts of the international community to reach a comprehensive political solution.” The Foreign Ministry stressed “the UAE’s support for a political solution to the Libyan crisis through the course of the Berlin Conference.”

The Emirati statement did not directly comment on Haftar’s announcement last Monday that the LNA would seize power, granting the Skhirat political agreement that was concluded in 2015 under the auspices of the United Nations, and which gave rise to the National Accord Government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj is the Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya and prime minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya that was formed as a result of the Libyan Political Agreement signed on 17 December 2015. He has been a member of the Parliament of Tripoli.

The National Army and the Government of National Accord had already announced twice this year that they would stop the fighting, but last month there was a major escalation. A week ago, the European Union, the United Nations, and several countries called for a truce in the fighting in Libya during the month of Ramadan.

Haftar does not recognize the legitimacy of the Government of National Accord, recognized by the United Nations, and formed under an agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco in 2015. He has been leading an attack to control the capital, and seat of the GNA, for more than a year. Since 2015, these two authorities have been in conflict. The GNA, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, based in Tripoli, in the west, is fighting a parallel government, supported by Field Marshal Haftar and the elected parliament in the east of the country.

The announcement of this truce came while the forces loyal to Haftar have faced several setbacks in the past weeks, as GNA forces, backed by Turkey, expelled the LNA from the strategic cities of Sabratha and Sarman, in the west, two weeks ago. They are currently encircling Tarnah, the largest rear base for al-Mashir, about fifty kilometers away Southeast of Tripoli.

Since the beginning of his offensive, Haftar has declared a truce several times. However, neither side has paid attention to it for very long, while the two sides have constantly accused each other of violating it.

Haftar announced in a speech last Monday in Benghazi to “drop” the Skhirat political agreement and obtain a “popular mandate” to run the country. The National Accord government condemned the move, saying it was a “new coup” against power.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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