A Libyan envoy has stated on Monday that if all Libyans reject outside interference, such as the United Nations, then an agreement can be reached between the warring factions in Libya to end their dispute.
Ghassan Salame, told the Security Council that preparations are ongoing for an international summit in Berlin and that Wednesday’s important meeting of senior officials is geared at achieving agreement on the overview of actions required to address the conflict.
According to him, these actions include a cease-fire, enforcement of the arms embargo on Libya, a return to the peace process led by Libya, security and economic reforms, and upholding international human rights and humanitarian law.
Back in 2011, a civil war unseated Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. With a weak U.N supported government in Tripoli overseeing the west of the country and a rival government in the east allied with the Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hafter, each backed by a number of militias, the country was split into two, following the turmoil.
Hafter launched a sudden military offensive on April 4 to seize Tripoli despite agreements to attend a national conference weeks later to form a united government and push towards elections.
In recent months, fighting for Tripoli has slowed, with both sides closing in and shelling each other along the southern stretches of the capital.
Of the country’s many militias, the Libyan National Army is the largest and best-organized, backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia. On the other hand, Turkey and Qatar are helping the Tripoli-allied militias.
According to Salame, more than 200 civilians were killed and more than 128,000 people have fled their homes since the beginning of the conflict. More than 135,000 civilians live in front-line areas, and an estimated 270,000 people are living in war-affected areas, he said.
Salame said “The weeks ahead will be critical”, he also said that he is “determined to see the end of this debilitating conflict.” In a video briefing from the region, he told the council that “ending the conflict and agreeing to the way forward is a realistic prospect.”
Yet he cautioned that an increased presence of mercenaries and fighters from international private military firms is worsening the conflict, drawing attention to drone strikes and aerial attacks from the warring sides by foreign allies.
“External investment in the conflict risks surpassing the amount of national involvement, taking control of Libya’s future away from the Libyans and putting it in the hands of foreign parties,” he cautioned. “Once invited in, foreign intervention is the guest that settles and seizes control of the house,” he said.
The UN envoy further said, “The violence is facilitated by Libya’s plethora of Gadhafi-era arms as well as by continued shipments of war material brought into the country in breach of the arms embargo,” these arms include spare parts for fighter aircraft and tanks, bullets and precision missiles to mention but a few.
Salame encouraged all Libyans to dismiss outside intrusion in the dealings of their country and implore outside countries to enforce the arms embargo “and commit tangibly to end the conflict on the ground before it is too late.”
He said the highlights of an agreement are understood, there are choices for a constitutional structure and electoral legislation has been drawn up before.
In Salame’s words; “All that is needed now is for you, the international community, to come together to provide the necessary umbrella for the Libyan parties themselves to join hands to end the conflict and resume dialogue,”