On Sunday, the two leaders of warring Libyan factions met in Berlin along with leaders and officials from Turkey, Russia, Egypt, France, Italy, UK, U.S., United Arab Emirates, Algeria, China, the Republic of the Congo, the United Nations, European Union, and African Union for an international summit in an attempt to stop the ongoing military conflict in Libya.
On Monday, it was reported there was a broad agreement to “commit to refraining from interference in the armed conflict or in the internal affairs of Libya” and urged all international actors “to do the same.”
They agreed to “commit to unequivocally and fully respect and implement the arms embargo,” established by the UN in 2011, and called on all actors to “refrain from any activities exacerbating the conflict… including the financing of military capabilities or the recruitment of mercenaries.”
Among the two leaders of the Libyan factions was Khalifa Haftar, a former Libyan general who defected to the U.S. in the late 1980s. Haftar is considered a CIA agent, and he consistently supported several attempts to topple and assassinate Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Haftar moved to suburban Virginia, outside Washington, D.C., and returned to Libya following the overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011. Later, he was made commander of the Libyan National Army, which had taken full control of Benghazi, the second largest Libyan city and one that contained vital oil fields.
Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the UN and endorsed by Libyan government, is the other leader of the two rival factions. Neither he nor Haftar agreed to meet in the same room as the talks were in progress.
Following the agreement, there were reports that Haftar’s forces prevented Libyan oil exports from being shipped from a number of Libyan ports.
This conference in Berlin is the most visible attempt yet to deal with the ongoing militia warfare since former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was slaughtered in a 2011 war, which was led by U.S. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Last April, Haftar led forces who tried to take over the capital city of Tripoli and oust the government of al-Sarraj. Since that failed attempt, the UN Security council had been trying to attain a cease-fire.
Libya’s current Government of National Accord (GNA), an interim government put together by an UN-led initiative in 2015, was cobbled together from various political groups, including Islamists. While acting as the ruling government, the GNA has no unified military force, but it counts on protection from a number of local militias.
The opposition Haftar military is strongly anti-Islamist, and his forces are also primarily formed from various militias.
Just days before the conference, Haftar was reportedly pressured by Russia to accept a temporary cease-fire.
Since Gaddafi’s murder, the once-prosperous nation’s infrastructure, which was one of the most advanced in the region, was severely damaged by the U.S.-led NATO bombing in 2011. Sitting on the world’s ninth largest oil reserves and also rich in mineral deposits, Libya’s strategically-long Mediterranean coastline has long been a key target for foreign interests.
New U.S. Role?
The U.S. was originally a strong supporter of the GNA, but after taking office in 2017, President Trump stated he didn’t want the U.S. involved, stating, “I think the United States has right now enough roles. We are in a role everywhere.”
This past April, however, the White House put out a conflicting signal after Haftar tried to seize control of the country. After a phone conversation between Trump and Haftar, Trump is quoted as complementing “Field Marshall Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources.”
The following day, after Trump’s call, Haftar launched an attack into the city borders of Tripoli.
Proxy War
Hafter is backed by the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and Russia. Currently, Turkey is showing the strongest support for the current GNA government.
The UAE has provided Hafter with jets and drones, and Egypt has offered logistical support. When Hafter’s forces failed to infiltrate Tripoli last spring, Moscow sent some 1,500 Russian fighters, mostly privately paid mercenaries, to help Haftar continue his advance.
To counter this, Turkey, which supports the GNC government, is reported to have sent hundreds of its troops to counter the Haftar offensive. Turkey’s financial interest includes access to rich mineral deposits the current government agreed to let them exploit. If Hafter wins military and political control, those lucrative rights would be lost.
Colonial History: Follow the $$$
The world’s major powers coming together at the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss Libya’s future has a familiar historic echo. In 1884, German leader Otto von Bismarck convened a similar conference of world powers to divide up the lucrative resources of the African continent.
Out of that conference came the “General Act of the Berlin Conference,” signed onto by the U.S. along with the major countries of Europe, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia. This act basically carved up Africa into colonies to be exploited by the signers.
Belgium took over the Congo; France seized control of the Sahara region; Germany took over the East African countries of Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi; Britain eventually controlled Sudan; Morocco became occupied by both France and Spain; and Italy conquered Libya.
Fast forward to 2020: in addition to the huge oil and mineral reserves, Libya is geographically the most travelled migration route into Europe.
Russia is reported to seek revamping the lucrative military contracts it had with Libya before the U.S. went after Gaddafi and bombed the country into rubble.
China has invested billions in Africa as part of its “Belt & Road Initiative,” and Germany, which has troops in Mali and Niger, revised its “Africa Policy Guidelines” last May, which specifically cites the continent’s “rich natural resources.”
Two days before Sunday’s international conference, Josep Borrell, the EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner, stated, “It is crucial that we assert our interests more strongly and, if necessary, robustly.”
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Absent in all the mainstream media coverage is that prior to the France, UK, and U.S.-led overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya was Africa’s wealthiest nation. With a GDP per capita and life expectancy the highest on the continent, less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands. Under Gaddafi, Libyans had free healthcare, free education, free electricity, and interest-free loans.
Now, when writing about the war-torn, oil-rich country, newspapers, such as the New York Times, ignore the fact that life was much better for Libyans under Gaddafi’s rule and, instead, refer to what’s going on as a “nasty civil war,” and “a mess.”

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