Despite calls for a ceasefire, in Libya a military escalation is expected

Libya National Army

Despite calls from the international community to reach a ceasefire in Libya and the return of the parties to the dialogue table, the movements on the ground in recent weeks have led us to imagine a future military escalation in the central-western region.Strengthened by military success in Tripoli and the western region, Libya’s National Accord Government (GNA) is clearly determined to take control of Sirte and al-Jufra, and in particular ports and oil fields there.

The Turkish-backed GNA will only agree to a ceasefire if the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by the old general Khalifa Haftar, withdraws from the strategic positions of Sirte and Jufra, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu told the Financial Times (FT) on Sunday.Cavusoglu alsorevealed the “determination” among GNA officials to resume its offensive against the LNA if it does not retreat from the strategic positions in central Libya.He also hinted that Turkey could support a GNA offensive, saying that Ankara considers the GNA’s “preconditions” for the ceasefire “legitimate and reasonable.”

Put aside the rhetoric of the fight against terrorism, from one side, and the defense of the civil state, on the other, now the Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, and warlord Khalifa Haftar, reveal the real reasons behind their conflict: the control of Libyan resources.To confirm this, is a statement from the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC), which condemned a renewed blockade of oil exportations.

 “Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) condemns unreservedly the renewed blockade on Libyan oil exports, and calls for the states responsible to be held to account by the United Nations Security Council”. The statement affirms, adding that “NOC has been forced to declare force majeure on all oil exports from Libya to limit its contractual liabilities”. Libyan oil exports restarted on Friday 10 July with the loading of the oil tanker Kriti Bastion at Es Sider. “However, Khalifa Hafter’s armed forces on 11 July ordered a halt to further exports, reversing their cooperative posture in negotiations. NOC has been informed that the instructions to shut down production were given to LNA by the United Arab Emirates”.  NOC stated.

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The national oil company, also denounced that “Wagner and Syrian mercenaries now occupy Es Sider oil port and Wagner and Sudanese mercenaries are camped within the vicinity of the Sharara oil field, preventing Libyan oil from flowing”.  According to our sources, a large LNA-Russian convoy has been spotted heading towards Sirte city while carrying three Russian made Pantsir-1 air defense systems on Saturday. The day after, the LNA has conducted several artillery strikes targeting GNA positions in Waskah area and its surroundings west of Sirte.

By December 2019, the Turkey’s intervention in Libya changed the course of the war in favor of the GNA, which had been under siege in the capital Tripoli by the LNA for more than one year.The GNA, supported by thousands of Syrian mercenaries sent to Libya by Turkey as well as Turkish air defense systems, weapons, and troops, broke the LNA’s siege and captured the strategic al-Watiya air base in the Western region. Both sides have vowed to control the strategic center of the country, represented by the city of Sirte, with Egypt and its allied LNA describing it as a “red line” that would prompt escalation.

We believe that if the international community does not take concrete steps to prevent this military escalation, for example by appointing a new UN envoy in Libya, or if Europe does not appear united and incisive in facilitating dialogue, we will see new military operations in the next few hours, which will lead to the loss of thousands lives among civilians and fighters on both sides.

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