No Sunday truce: Libya’s Haftar rejects Putin-Erdogan ceasefire call

9 Jan, 2020

General Khalifa Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army, has rejected the ceasefire proposed by the Russian and Turkish presidents as a way to de-escalate the hostilities with the government in Tripoli.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a truce in Libya during their meeting on Wednesday in Istanbul, after Turkey sent troops and equipment to Tripoli in support of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Haftar’s LNA controls most of Libya, however, and has been advancing on Tripoli in recent days. He rejected the idea of a ceasefire on Thursday, after returning from Rome, where Italy tried without success to mediate a deal between the LNA and GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj.

The general also declared jihad against Turkey last week, after the parliament in Ankara voted to approve the troop deployment.

The UN-backed government is only “hanging on in a coastal strip of the country” and has “very little control” over Libya, political analyst Chris Bambery told RT. It is unlikely Haftar would agree to back down just when the LNA appears to be nearing victory, he said.

Italy, which ruled Libya as a colonial power from 1911 into the 1940s, tried to get Haftar and al-Sarraj to negotiate in Rome, but the GNA leader canceled his trip after finding out the LNA general was also invited. Al-Sarraj went to Brussels instead, for talks with EU officials, which he called “very productive.”

Once the most prosperous country in Africa, Libya collapsed into chaos and civil war after a US-led NATO intervention in 2011 overthrew the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Haftar’s LNA is one of the factions that emerged from the chaos, with the backing of neighboring Egypt.

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