Sarraj Stresses Holding Elections to Resolve the Libyan Crisis

French

Cairo, Tunisia — Head of Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj stressed the importance of holding the parliamentary and presidential elections to resolve the current crisis in the country.

Following his meeting with Turkey’s special envoy to Libya Emrullah Isler, Sarraj preferred not to repeat the transitional phase since this would bring new burdens to the country, affirming that the parliamentary and presidential elections is the only way out along with providing the adequate climate.

In his statement, Sarraj pointed out that some are objecting under the pretext of the security condition while the main reason for objecting over elections lies in concerns of losing positions, interests and privileges as well as removing some figures from the political scene.

In his turn, Turkey’s special envoy to Libya Emrullah Isler renewed his country’s support to Sarraj government and the road-map announced, expressing Turkey’s readiness to cooperate with all Libyan parties.

Isler also revealed the intention to proceed the agreed upon projects and the determination to implement new projects in Libya. There is a common ground for cooperation between Turkey and Libya, agreed Sarraj, expressing his government’s wish that this cooperation expands to include various service and economic fields.

Reliable sources affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat Tunisia’s impartiality towards various Libyan parties – they expected that the tour outcome of United Nations special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salameh would be decisive in taking decisions towards the return of Libyan parties to the dialogue.

In a related matter, more than 4,000 migrants have been transferred to a hangar in the coastal city of Sabratha by a UN migration agency, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said. In a written statement, UNSMIL said the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is providing emergency assistance to migrants in Sabratha’s Dahman district who had been “previously held in numerous informal detention centers and camps.”

Libya: Sarraj, Haftar Share the ‘Liberation’ of Sabratha

Libya

Cairo — The ISIS Fighting Operation Room (IFOR), loyal to Head of Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj, announced on Friday their full control of Sabratha after more than two weeks of heavy clashes against Brigade 48.

The clashes between a security force loyal to the UN-backed GNA and the militia of the head of a former people-smuggling network, Ahmad Dabbashi, have led to many causalities.

“Sabratha city has been liberated from the militias – the Dabbashi militias and their alliance,” said Operations Room spokesman Saleh Graisia.

“Now the city is fully controlled by the Operations Room… the militias have escaped to the west.”

Graisia also hailed the Presidential Council for its support to their war on “terror”.

Directly after announcing the victory, Official spokesman for the Libyan National Army Colonel Miloud al-Zawi, praised efforts exerted by the Libyan forces, who achieved “victory” against whom he called the “Kharijites,” referring to Brigade 48.

He called on the Libyan forces to preserve the city entirely and keep unity in preparation for liberating other cities in the western district.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), which has opposed the GNA and is headed by prominent Commander Khalifa Haftar, has also claimed ties to the Operations Room, leading to fears that the clashes in Sabratha could lead to a broader escalation of the conflict which developed in Libya after a 2011 uprising.

Zawi said this week that around 40 of its soldiers had been fighting in Sabratha.

“We hope that Sabratha is a good sign for the LNA,” he said on Friday.

The GNA, which had originally set up the security forces to fight ISIS during its brief occupation of central Sabratha in February 2016, welcomed the liberation announcement.

It expressed “great satisfaction with the positive developments at Sabratha,” in a statement posted on Facebook.

Sabratha, 70 kilometers west of Tripoli where the GNA is based, is Libya’s main departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe.

Sabratha Municipal Council hailed the victory and said in a statement that the fighting was an internal issue aimed at eradicating criminals and ISIS fugitives.

Fighting broke out in Sabratha on September 17 between Infantry Brigade 48 (Known as Martyr Anas Dibbashi Brigade) and the ISIS Fighting Operation Room, both claim loyalty to the Presidential Council in Tripoli.

Meanwhile, and in a statement issued Friday on his official Facebook page, Serraj expressed his full appreciation of the efforts made by the IFOR and his great satisfaction with the positive developments in the city.

For his part, Haftar described the clashes in Sabratha as “a legitimate war between officers from the national army (IFOR) on the one hand and terrorist groups and human traffickers on the other hand.”

Haftar added that the war in Sabratha will not stop before these groups hand over their weapons and the foreign elements who are fighting with them and release the detained people for the purpose of blackmailing.

Salameh Shows Optimism about Solving Libya Crisis after Meeting Haftar

General Haftar, commander in the Libyan National Army, attends a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Moscow

Cairo- The United Nations special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salameh met on Thursday with Commander of Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar in the eastern city of Benghazi.

On its official Facebook page, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) confirmed Salameh’s meeting with Haftar, who is affiliated with Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament.

In a series of tweets, Salemeh said that Marshal Haftar expressed support for him and the UN Action Plan for Libya, and he informed him of his views for advancing political process.

Salemeh also updated Haftar on outcomes of House of Representatives and High Council of State Joint Drafting Committee meetings in Tunisia and next steps to resolve the Libyan crisis.

On Wednesday, Salameh met with Aqila Saleh, speaker of the Tobruk-based parliament, which announced that its members will be invited to attend two meetings at its headquarters next week to discuss conclusions reached during the meetings that were held in Tunisia.

The UN envoy’s sudden round of shuttle diplomacy comes only two weeks after he proposed a “roadmap” for resolving Libya’s ongoing political crisis.

In a common matter, Head of the High Council of the State Abdulrahman al-Suwaihli is set to meet Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano in Italy’s capital, Rome, today.

Alfano will receive Suwaihili at the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters in Rome, according to Italian news agency Aki, which also said that Italy has received several Libyan officials; the most recent was Ahmed Maiteeq, Vice Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya and Deputy Prime Minister of Libya, preceded by Field Marshal Haftar.

Moreover, during the celebration of the 44th anniversary of the war of October 6, 1973, Haftar pledged in a statement, issued by the Libyan National Army Command on Thursday, that “we, as military personnel, will not waste our historical gains, and we will not let go of any inch of our land.”

The statement said that “the Libyan national army stands with all the glory and pride before one of the Arab nation’s eternal memories made by the Egyptian army, and we had the honor to participate in it.”

“It is a glorious memory in the history of the Arab armies, which played an active role in proving the power and strength of the Arab soldier.”

In the field, militant clashes between armed militias renewed overnight in Tripoli on Wednesday, where residents and security sources said skirmishes took place near the Qasr Bin Ghashir district south of the city.

The Government of National Accord, which is supposed to manage the affairs of the capital, made no comment on the clashes that are the second in a week.

France Stresses Commitment to ‘Celle Saint-Cloud Agreements’ during Haftar’s Visit

France

Paris – France is maintaining pressure on the Libyan parties to push for a political settlement, in continuation of the Celle Saint-Cloud summit in July, which brought together Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan armed forces, and Prime Minister of the National Accord Government, Fayez al-Sarraj, under the auspices of President Emmanuel Macron.

Last week, the Elysee Palace hosted technical meetings aimed at following up on recent developments in the Libyan file, according to French official sources.

On Thursday, Haftar arrived in Paris, where he met with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, to brief him on his latest talks in the Italian capital.

French diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Le Drian has stressed the need to abide by the agreements reached in Celle Saint-Cloud, namely the ceasefire and the holding of legislative and presidential elections next spring.

During the July summit, Sarraj and Haftar committed to a conditional ceasefire and to work towards holding elections under UN supervision.

Last week in New York, UN Envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame underlined the primacy of the United Nations in any initiative to resolve the Libyan conflict. He noted that the multiplicity and dispersion of initiatives between Paris, Rome, and capitals of neighboring countries, would weaken the role of the UN and its envoy.

French sources stressed that the Paris diplomacy wanted to convey the same message to all parties, and believed that the circumstances today were “more appropriate” for the success of an international mediation than they were in the past.

During his trip to Italy earlier this week, Haftar met with a number of Italian political and security officials, who called on the army commander to disarm and abandon military action against the UN-backed government, and to participate in the country’s political process, according to local sources.

Haftar Holds Secret Meetings in Rome on Migration

Libyan General Khalifa Haftar addresses a press conference in Benghazi.

Cairo- Following an invitation from the Italian government, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army, arrived in Rome Tuesday to meet with Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti, Interior Minister Marco Minniti, the head of the Italian intelligence service and army commanders.

Italian newspaper “Il Messaggero” said that Haftar’s visit will include holding secret meetings on migration and discussing the possibility of providing protection for work sites of Italian Energy working group “Eni” in Libya.

Meanwhile, Head of the Russian contact group on Libya Lev Dengov denied Moscow’s bias towards Haftar in the current crisis among the Libyan parties.

Dengov tried to prove the rapprochement among all Libyan parties. He said that during Haftar’s visit to the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, early this year, “the Russian contact group was meeting with Misurata soldiers, who defeated ISIS in Sirte.”

“This reflects our stance. Our main goal is to combat terrorism, and we are ready to cooperate with any party that can assist us in this mission, and we also support the consolidation of state institutions in Libya.”

“Moscow does not intend to lift the arms embargo on Libya anytime soon,” he noted.

In the field, the clashes continue to escalate and then calm again between the two security forces of the government of the National Accord in the city, leaving 17 dead, about 50 wounded, and the majority of the city’s population displaced, according to the Libyan Red Crescent.

Chairman of the Presidential Council of the Libyan Government of National Accord Fayez al-Sarraj was keen to visit the Martyrs’ Square in the center of Tripoli upon his arrival from New York, after the end of a demonstration called by former nominee to Premier post in Libya Abdul Basit Igtet.

On the other hand, US President Donald Trump has accused Libya of failing to cooperate in “restoring its nationals under final deportation orders.”

“Libya faces great challenges in sharing several types of information, including information on public safety and terrorism, which are needed to protect national security,” Trump said.

In a statement issued by the US embassy in Libya on Monday, Trump said that the large terrorist presence within Libyan territories increases the risk posed by the entry of Libyans into the United States.

UN Presents Three-Phase Plan for Solution in Libya

Cairo, New York – Ghassan Salame, the UN envoy for Libya, outlined an action plan of three phases to resolve the crisis in the country, during a high-level meeting on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.

He said the initiative would be led by Libyans to find a way out of the crisis that has split the nation among rival militias and governments.

“Six years ago, the Libyans were promised a transition phase. Today they are tired and want to get out of doubt,” Salame said at the beginning of the meeting.

In earlier remarks, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: “The Libyans have long suffered; they deserve peace and to live in democracy and prosperity.”

Ten of the leaders of the countries directly or indirectly involved in the Libya file participated in the meeting, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj.

Salame explained that the Skhirat agreement signed at the end of 2015 under the auspices of the United Nations, “remains the only possible framework”, before adding: “But there is broad consensus to amend it”.

“The action plan was not designed by me, but by the Libyans. They want an inclusive process, a way forward which clearly defines stages and objectives,” he stated.

Salame noted that the drafting of the plan would begin next week before the convening of a national conference for all key Libyan actors to join the political process.

Speaking about the first phase of the roadmap, Salame announced that a meeting would be held next week for the committee charged with amending the Skhirat agreement, in accordance with Article 12 of the political deal that established the internationally recognized national accord government in Tripoli.

The second phase of Salame’s plan is a national conference held under the auspices of the United Nations and which will bring together the “marginalized actors” of the Libyan scene in order to launch dialogue with armed groups with the aim of integrating their members into the political process.

The third phase, according to the roadmap, is to hold a referendum to adopt a new constitution within a year, which will pave the way to general presidential and parliamentary elections.

“I am also convinced that today there is an opportunity to end a protracted crisis that has caused immense suffering and contributed to the instability beyond Libya’s borders. We must all seize this moment,” Guterres said in an address to key stakeholders.

Tunisia Welcomes Haftar, Seeks to Revive Comprehensive Solution Initiative

Tunisia

Tunis – The Commander of the Libyan Army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, arrived on Monday in Tunis upon the invitation of President Beji Caid Essebsi, within a Tunisian attempt to revive its initiative of a comprehensive solution to the Libyan crisis.

Haftar’s first official visit to Tunisia follows his participation in the meeting of the African Union (AU) High-Level Committee on Libya, in Brazzaville, Congo.

It also comes in the wake of regional and international attempts to solve the Libyan crisis, amid competition over a share of reconstruction plans that stimulate the appetite of several countries and to stop illegal immigration to a number of northern Mediterranean states.

A statement by the Tunisian presidential office said that Essebsi and Haftar discussed “the principles and objectives of the initiative launched by Tunisia, with the engagement of Algeria and Egypt, and which was welcomed by the various Libyan parties and supported by international forces.”

The Tunisian president stressed that the solution to the crisis “remains in the hands of the Libyan people”, explaining that the role of Tunisia and neighboring countries was limited to facilitating dialogue between the different Libyan components within the framework of cooperation and coordination with the United Nations.

According to the Tunisian presidency, Haftar underlined the importance of Tunisia’s support to the Libyan people, especially in their efforts to fight terrorism.

In remarks following the meeting, Haftar vowed to “eradicate terrorism”.

“We have heard a good word from the president and our vision is consistent with his vision,” he said.

“We talked about the situation in our country, which is being subjected to a serious attack by terrorists; but we have a strong army that has confronted these groups and we believe that the story of terrorism in Libya will end soon,” he added.

According to well-informed Tunisian sources, the two officials also discussed the possibility of holding a meeting between Haftar and the head of the national reconciliation government, Fayez al-Sarraj in Tunisia, “in support of UN efforts to resolve the Libyan crisis.”

Haftar met on Monday with the US Ambassador to Libya, Peter Bodde, who is temporarily residing in Tunisia, before heading to the Carthage Palace to meet with Essebsi.

Next Tuesday, the Tunisian capital is set to host meetings between the parties to the Libyan dialogue to discuss a formula to amend the Skhirat political agreement, which was signed by the end of 2015.

Sudan, Libya Agree to Cooperate on Fighting Terrorism

Khartoum– Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the head of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, agreed to cooperate on security issues, in particular fighting terrorism in order to restore Libya’s stability.

In a joint news conference with Sarraj in Khartoum, Bashir said his country had no agendas in Libya except to achieve unity and stability and restore security.

“We confirm that we do not have a special agenda that is not in the interests of the Libyan people,” he said.

Bashir stressed that his government’s support for the revolution against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 was based on the desire to achieve the aspirations of the Libyan people and to consolidate security and stability in the country and the region.

“Unfortunately, things went against what we wanted, and we confirm that we have maintained our efforts to support the Libyan people and the country’s security,” he said.

He noted that some Sudanese members of rebel groups were active in Libya as mercenaries, stressing that they represented a real threat to Sudan.

“We are affected directly by the insecurity in Libya, which has made it expensive for us to fight human trafficking, illegal immigration and cross-border crimes,” Bashir said.

“Those who are committing these crimes are using the instability in Libya, and using Sudanese territories to commit their crimes,” he added.

For his part, Sarraj told reporters that he discussed with Bashir challenges facing the two countries, latest developments in Libya on the political, economic and security levels, and efforts to achieve national reconciliation and end divisions.

He added that talks have also touched on the means to secure common borders, the implementation of security agreements, the development of bilateral relations and the exchange of support in the economic fields, as well as the promotion of investment.

Sarraj arrived in the Sudanese capital on Monday on a two-day official visit, after a previous trip to the country was postponed in mid-March due to security unrest in Libya.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told reporters at Khartoum airport that the official visit would tackle bilateral relations, Sudanese armed movements active in Libya, economic issues and coordination on regional and international levels.

Haftar Threatens ISIS after Terrorist Attack on Army Checkpoint

Boris Johnson met Libyan Unity Government Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj (right). Reuters

Cairo- The Libyan National Army vowed Wednesday to eliminate ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the deaths of nine soldiers from the Libyan army in an attack on a checkpoint controlled by Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar south of Tripoli.

“At least nine soldiers were beheaded… in addition to two civilians” at the checkpoint about 500 kilometers south of Tripoli, Colonel Ahmad al-Mesmari said, blaming ISIS for the gruesome attack.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq propaganda channel on the Telegram messaging app, saying its militants had killed or wounded “21 members of Haftar’s militia.”

Notably, the Libyan National Army seized in June al-Jufra, including a key military air base, from the Benghazi Defense Brigades, a coalition that includes Islamists driven out of Libya’s second city by pro-Haftar forces.

Meanwhile, Head of the UN-proposed government’s Presidential Council (PC) Fayez al-Sarraj met in Tripoli Wednesday with British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson in the presence of British Ambassador to Libya Peter Millett and UN-proposed government’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Sayala.
During the meeting, Johnson renewed the support of the UK for the PC in the aim of achieving accord among Libyan conflicting parties on the political scene.

“We are ready to provide Libya with the necessary support to stabilize the country, and we hail in that regard the road map of Sarraj as well as the joint declaration of Paris,” UK’s Foreign Secretary remarked.

Sarraj, on the other hand, stressed the need for resuming the agreements that were made when Johnson visited Tripoli last May, including cooperation in education, health, energy, and security, besides the scholarships for Libyan graduates at UK universities and institutes.

Sarraj Presents New Political Plan to Tunisian President

Sarraj

Tunis – Head of the UN-backed Libyan government Fayez al-Sarraj said on Monday that there was “no alternative to political agreement” in his country, calling on all Libyan parties to implement their commitments to reach a “comprehensive settlement”.

He made his remarks following talk with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi in Tunis.

The meeting comes less than a month after Sarraj and his most prominent opponent, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, met in Paris, under the auspices of French President Emmanuel Macron, and reached a roadmap deal for a ceasefire and reconciliation.

Sarraj said the meeting at the Tunis’ Carthage Palace touched on various political initiatives to resolve the Libyan crisis, especially after the “situation had reached a dead end”.

The meeting also discussed political and security developments in Libya and means to activate the outcome of the Paris talks.

Sarraj also presented a solution proposed by the President of the Libyan Presidential Council to end the crisis.

Well-informed sources said the Tunis visit aims at “reshaping the political solution map”, which has been hit by various complications at the regional and international levels.

In a televised speech, Sarraj presented a nine-point roadmap, including the organization of presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2018, and drafting a constitution and holding a referendum on it. He also stressed the continuation of the work on the political agreement and the Government of National Accord until the appointment of a prime minister by the elected president.

In March, Tunis hosted a meeting of the foreign ministers of Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, to deal with an initiative aimed at reaching a comprehensive political settlement to the Libyan crisis.