Friday 7 May 2021
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Haftar rejects call from Russia, Turkey and EU for stock in Libya

Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar has rejected a call from Turkey and Russia for a ceasefire in Libya. Instead, he announced the continuation of his military operations. He also rejected a call for a ceasefire after meeting with EU President Michel. EU leaders also spoke to envoys from the Libyan government.

Haftar says that a revival of the political process and stability of the country can only be ensured by the "extermination of terrorist groups" and the dissolution of militias controlling the capital, Tripoli.

Libya is currently governed by dueling authorities, each with its own army and each with the support of (partly foreign) militias. The government of Haftar is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt, as well as France and Russia. The government in Tripoli receives assistance from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.

Haftar's troops launched an offensive against the capital in April, the seat of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj's UN-recognized government. The Haftar militia took over the important coastal town of Sirte this week.

The EU also insisted on a ceasefire this week. Both Prime Minister al-Serraj and Haftar were in Rome on Wednesday for meetings with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Conte tries to play a mediating role in bringing about a truce.

The Turkish parliament approved Thursday the deployment of troops in Libya, following a separate agreement on sending military experts and weapons signed in December. The Libyan National Army (LNA) of Haftar, with its superior air capabilities and support from regional powers, has so far benefited from military capabilities.

Libya has been in chaos since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that killed the long-standing dictator Moamer Gaddafi and is now divided between the GNA and the rival authorities of Haftar in the east of the country.

Tensions escalated last year when Haftar launched an offensive to capture Tripoli, aided by the UAE and by Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group, led by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin - although Moscow denies this.

However, the conflict in Libya has exposed some disagreements between EU countries. France has taken the Haftar side, while Italy and other EU countries support Serraj and the GNA, which they regard as the legitimate, internationally recognized government after it came to power in a UN-mediated power distribution.

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