LNA vs. GNA – war or peace?

Preparations for war

It’s been 9 years since Libya was split in two factions that are fighting each other to control the whole territory. Despite of LNA and GNA’s attempts to make peace, it seems that both sides are preparing for war.
The mobilization in Jurfa and Sierte for Haftar’s militias as well as Russian Wagner Gropup mercenaries with their heavy weapons and anti-aircraft systems have been monitored by the intelligence units of the Government of National Accord (GNA)

In response, GNA has mobilized its forces and declared the highest level of alertness after receiving information that the Libyan National Army may attack a number of cities in western Libya, including Gharyan, Bani Walid and Tarhuna. GNA is taking all measures to deter and prevent any potential attack that can take them by surprise.

“Our heroic forces have begun to mobilize and prepare, following instructions of the Minister of Defence Colonel Salah El-Din al Nimroush to take all the measure to repel and prevent any possible attack and remain at the highest level of alert”, the statement said.

Despite the fact that both sides, GNA and LNA signed a ceasefire agreement, this time GNA expressed its intention to violate it, saying that “Haftar has tried more than one to violate the ceasefire agreement, but we will not give up on Sierte or Jufrah or any inch of Libya and we will go on to restore our control over the whole of the Libyan soil”.

LNA’s accusations against GNA

The Haftar-led Libyan National Army soon rejected the ceasefire dubbing it a “media marketing”. LNA spokesperson Ahmed Mismari told media that forces in the west of Libya were using the ceasefire to dispatch equipment and mobilize front lines in the center of the country.

LNA accused the GNA Minister of Defence Salah Al-Din al Nimroush of preparing to carry out an attack against the military in order to impose control over the South. It came “immediately after his return from Turkey and it confirms Turkey’s suspicious role in Libya. At their last meeting, GNA and Turkey agreed to boost cooperation in security, defence, economic and investment fields. After that, Turkish troops appeared in photos published by local Libyan media while they were searching for mines. Some websites specialized in monitoring air traffic and military flights have noticed an increasing activity for Turkish cargo planes landing at the base. Turkey is supporting GNA due to its interests and also because changing the Presidential Council will make it lose an ally that it will not be able to replace. Some observers think that Ankara is sending a message to various regional and international parties stating that it would not accept any settlement of the Libyan crisis which ignores its interests.

Verbal statements in which the parties accuse each other of contradictions, only confirm the commitment to the ceasefire, despite the mutual threats between the parties indicate the possible return of the military confrontations.

Attempt to end-up the conflict

In order to mediate the conflict, the delegations of the two parties of Libya met on 11th October 2020 in Cairo to begin a new round of negotiations on constitutional arrangements, a step prior to the intra-Libyan dialogue that will begin in early November in Tunis. The energy, economic and health crises are weighing on citizens who have been demonstrating in the streets against the two governments. After almost seven years of confrontation and a completely divided country, the Libyans are regaining hope of holding new elections and forming a new constitution to end the conflict. “The time has come to fulfil the aspirations of the Libyan people by pushing forward the political for Libya to have a constitution that defines the powers and responsibilities, which will lead to presidential and parliamentary elections” said Abbas Kamel, the director of Egypt’s intelligence service. The talks seek to identify the mechanisms of a settlement in Libya and the framework of a new constitution for the war-torn country.

The decision of National Oil Corporation (NOC) to lift the state of force majeure on Sahara oilfield was welcomed by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) because it contributes to the process of unifying the two governments and finally bringing peace in Libya. “The decision reflects the constructive atmosphere created in the lead-up to the reconvening by UNSMIL intra-Libyan military and political talks”.

However, all those steps represent a “rare opportunity” for peace in Libya that should be seized by all those involved directly or indirectly in the conflict. “Libyans want their leaders to act responsibly and constructively, in the interest pf their nation, to build consensus on an inclusive political settlement that would restore democratic legitimacy” said UNSMIL’s Ms. Williams.