Libya Truce Unlikely to Hold, Analysts Say
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who backs the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, urged for a ceasefire to be implemented
A ceasefire in war-torn Libya is unlikely to hold, analysts told The Media Line, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met in Istanbul on Friday to discuss the conflicts in Libya and Syria amid fears of another refugee crisis.
The Turkish president said that a tentative truce agreed to in Berlin last week where the warring sides in Libya met required implementation on the ground for it to work.
Turkey backs the internationally recognized government in Libya led by Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA), which is facing an insurgency to take over the capital of Tripoli by military commander Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russian mercenaries.
“The success of the [Berlin] plan depends on its implementation on the ground,” Erdoğan said, according to the Associated Press. “It is important that pressure is exerted on [Haftar] and his supporters.”
Emadeddin Badi, a policy fellow at the European University Institute focused on Libya, said that Merkel was unable to put enough pressure on Haftar’s supporters during the Berlin meeting.
“Haftar is committed to a nonpeaceful solution, he’s committed to a military solution to Libya,” Badi told The Media Line.
“I don’t think it’ll be his choice to stop.”
Haftar had gone to Moscow before the Berlin summit to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdoğan.
However, Haftar left before agreeing to a ceasefire that the two leaders supported.
While commentators said the move was a blow to Putin’s image, Badi said Russia and Haftar’s other backers do not have another option in Libya.
“I don’t think they have an alternative to supporting Haftar,” Badi said.
Kristian Brakel, an Istanbul-based analyst with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, agreed the violence would likely continue without intervention.
“If no one is stopping Haftar, then there’s no chance for a ceasefire,” Brakel told The Media Line.
Turkey sent military advisers and fighters from Syria to support the GNA after the two signed a maritime deal that aimed to set up a zone between the Turkish and Libya coastlines in the Eastern Mediterranean that would allow Turkey to drill for gas in the waters.
If such a zone were recognized, that would force regional rivals, including Egypt and Israel, to cooperate with Turkey if they wanted to export their gas to wealthy European markets via the sea.
The concern for Germany is that a heightened conflict in Libya could increase the flow of migrants and refugees heading to the European Union.
Turkey and Germany have long-standing ties, with 3 million members of the Turkish diaspora living in Germany.
Syria could also lead to more refugees heading to the EU. Numbers of asylum seekers landing in Greece from Turkey have significantly risen since the summer, amid increased attacks against Idlib region, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.
The United Nations said about 350, 000 Syrians had fled to areas near the Turkish border since early December.
Turkey has warned that it can “open up the gates” of migration if Europe does not support its plans for a safe zone in Syria where it wants to resettle 1 million Syrian refugees.
“There’s a certain leverage but it’s not enough for the Turks to get absolutely what they want,” Brakel said. “They need money sooner or later.”
A major defeat in the Istanbul mayoral in June last year for Erdoğan’s party was partly blamed on the resentment against the 3.7 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey.
Reiterating a common complaint from Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said before Merkel’s visit that the European Union had not given Turkey all of the $6 billion it was promised under a refugee deal.
In 20016, the EU said it would provide financial support to Turkey in return for Ankara stopping the flow of migrants and refugees heading to Europe.
Turkey’s economy has been struggling with rising inflation and unemployment rates since a currency meltdown in 2018 after sanctions from the US due to a diplomatic crisis, which led Turkey into a recession.
Brakel said there is “paranoia” among many Germans who are concerned about Erdoğan going back on the 2016 migrant deal and Merkel is willing to discuss providing more money to Turkey.
“But the chancellor is a bit alone on that,” Brakel said.