In the last period of time, Libya has been the scene of some unexpected events.
At the end of last week, the represents of LNA and GNA announced that until March 21, 2021 they will respect a ceasefire accord.
On Friday, August 21, GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj offered a ceasefire and called for the demilitarization of Sirte, a central city that is located roughly halfway between Tripoli and Haftar’s bastion city of Benghazi and that is known as the gateway to Libya’s main oil terminals.
Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. The country has since been divided into two rival camps that are based in the country’s east and west – and that in recent years have been vying for power.
The conflict escalated in April last year when eastern-based renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar announced an offensive to wrest control of the capital from the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
Supported by Turkey, the GNA in early June succeeded in repelling Haftar, driving his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) to the coastal Mediterranean city of Sirte – but not without incurring heavy losses.
On the other hand, LNA is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia. Turkey, a bitter rival of Egypt and the UAE in a broader regional struggle over political Islam, is the main patron of the Tripoli forces, which are also backed by the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar.
The declared ceasefire comes amidst a continued oil-export blockade, tensions between rival forces each backed by powerful regional allies, and the recent diplomatic pressure by the US and EU member-states. The amount of oil resources looks like is the main reason of the decision of ceasefire.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the calls for a ceasefire, hoping that the conditions of it will be immediately enter into force, for both sides.
The EU also welcomed the announcement and declared that these are good news coming from Libya, but also represent a crucial moment in Libyans life.
The end of last week was also the moment of the beginning of the protests. Hundreds of Libyans gathered on Sunday evening at the Martyrs Square in Tripoli, to protest the endemic corruption in the state, demanding accountability and the dismissal of those responsible. The protesters are still on the streets of the main cities of Libya, including, the capital – Tripoli.
The protest on Monday came a day after hundreds of people took to the streets of Misrata and more than 1,000 gathered in the capital, Tripoli, to voice their anger over similar concerns. According to some of the demonstrators, they protest against corruption and the lack of government services. They declared that fight for their rights, because they are feeling like they don’t have anything and they are struggling every single day.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic their situation worsen, and hundreds of people are dying without medical care services which aren’t provided by the government.
Sami Hamdi, editor of the International Interest, said the protests were an example of “an increasingly angry Libyan population” whose frustrations with worsening living conditions transcend the traditional divide of east and west.
About the ceasefire, the protesters from Misrata – a main source of military power for GNA, said authorities could not make that call on their behalf. They affirmed that they want peace but aren’t sure about the integrity of those who should decide a ceasefire, which are also those on the front lines of the civil war.
They called Haftar a war criminal and the responsible for the oil closers, the thousands of deaths in Tripoli and not only, and the deployment of all the Libyans from all parts of the country.
The announcement of ceasefire combined with the protests, gives to the Libyans hope for a better life and an end for the civil war.
The prospect of yet another war would be costly for everyone, and leave neither side closer to consolidating a grip on the whole country, so everyone involved knows this and – for now – some appear to have convinced themselves, and each other, of a plan B.