Has the Libya truce effort failed?
It would have been a major foreign policy and strategic victory if together with Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan managed to achieve a ceasefire and play an effective mediator role to guide Libya out of the devastating civil war.
If Libyan-American warlord General Khalifa Haftar needed Russia’s direct or indirect support to survive and if Putin seriously wanted a ceasefire in Libya, how did it happen that - despite initial and temporary ceasefire acceptance by both sides in the civil-war torn Arab country - Haftar left the Moscow talks without signing a formal cease-fire agreement?
With an optimistic approach it might be said that details of “Operation Moscow” will become clear hopefully within days. A pessimistic assessment might conclude that why Haftar left Moscow without a ceasefire deal might remain a top confidential issue. Can anything remain secret forever? Very difficult, is it not?
Even the notorious 1916 Sykes–Picot Agreement between the United Kingdom and France, with assent from the Russian Empire and Italy, to define their mutually agreed spheres of influence and control in an eventual partition of the Ottoman Empire, could not remain a secret forever.
Why did Fayez al-Sarraj, the prime minister of the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord, meet in Istanbul with U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield after the collapse of the Moscow talks, on his way home?
Though after the meeting with al-Sarraj, the U.S. reaffirmed its support for the elusive temporary ceasefire as well as the upcoming conference in Berlin. Where does the Donald Trump administration stand on this issue? Is it really clear?
Reports from Tripoli indicate that the vow of Erdoğan to help the al-Sarraj government defend itself against the advancement of Haftar’s troops, while there are also claims that the warlord has instructed its forces to prepare for a final and decisive offensive. It is already no secret that Turkey has limited and non-combat military presence in Tripoli.
Erdoğan’s “We will not hesitate to teach a deserved lesson to the putschist Haftar if he continues his attacks on the country’s legitimate administration and our brothers in Libya” vow might require Turkey to consider deploying combat troops, or as the Turkish leader prefers to describe it, elements.
Both Turkey and Syria confirmed reports this week that their intelligence executives came together in Moscow, a first such publicly acknowledged encounter. According to claims the two countries could not succeed in making any sort of rapprochement when the Syrian top spy insisted on Turkey to agree to totally withdraw from the Syrian territory. With over 3.5 million refugees in Turkey and several thousand marching towards the Turkish border from the Idlib area under Russia-supported Syrian government’s attacks, the security zone Turkey established along the Syria border has become an existentially important issue for Turkey. Similarly, Turkey needed to stay in that zone until after a resolution was achieved in Syria in order to prevent the northern Syrian Kurds from carving out a state there.
Did Turkey and Syria discuss the situation in Idlib? Was the meeting part of Turkey’s effort to stabilize the situation in Syria and dispatch some, of course not whole, of the Ankara-financed Free Syria Army (FSA)? If Turkey will not be sending combat troops to Tripoli, then it must find some other elements…
Since the German government has disclosed that both Sarraj and Haftar were invited to the Berlin talks this Sunday, will they go?
On the other hand, there are claims from Tripoli that Russia has pledged to Sarraj that it will use every possible effort to convince Haftar within days to accept signing a formal ceasefire deal and engaging in a process aimed at resolving the Libya civil war with a national government recognized by all parties.
Thus, the ceasefire efforts perhaps did not yet falter, and within days the world might hear from Berlin the government and the rebels agreed on a formal cessation of hostilities and engage in a serious and result-oriented peace-making process supported not only by Turkey and Russia, but all major countries that attach importance to tranquility in the Arab country.