Ceasefire in Libya: A Gift for U.N. Day?
(Geneva). On Friday 23 October 2020; Stephanie Williams; the U.N. acting Special Envoy for Libya said that the representatives of the parties in Geneva had agreed to a ceasefire starting 24 October; U.N. Day. All military units and armed groups on the front lines are to return to their camps. All mercenaries and foreign fighters in Libya; are to depart within a maximum period of three months; from 24 October.
Both the Russians and the Turks have sent mercenaries to back their interests. The Russians have used the “private” security firm Wagner; first founded to back Russian interests in Ukraine. The Turks have sent Syrian militias friendly to Turkey; with promises of money and Turkish citizenship.
Since the outbreak of armed conflict on the outskirts of Tripoli on 3 April 2019; many persons have been killed and wounded. Migrants and refugees; being held in detention centers have suffered. The humanitarian situation has degraded dramatically. In the recent past; all the armed factions have violated the laws of war; and have a sad record of abuses against civilians.
A Lightning War.
General Khalifa Hifter hoped his attack would be a blitzkrieg ( a lightning war). He badly underestimated; he degree of military response that he would meet from the militias loyal to the Government of National Accord; led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sariaj.
Libyan society faces large and complex issues in order to create a stable administrative structure of government; that takes into consideration the geographic and ethnic diversity of the country. There are three distinct regions; which must have some degree of autonomy: Tripolitania and Cyrenaica; both bordering the Mediterranean and Fezzan in the southern Sahara. Within each of the three regions; there are differing and often rival tribal societies which are; in practice; more kinship lines than organized tribes. (1)
There are differing economic interests and different ideologies ranging from “Arab Socialism” to the Islamist ideology of the Islamic State (ISIS); which has spread from its Syrian-Iraqi base. The Association of World Citizens has proposed the possibility of con-federal constitutional structures. However; the first priority in the U.N.-led negotiations was to reach a ceasefire. We must hope that it will hold and that discussions on constitutional structures will follow.
1) See J. Davis Libyan Politics Tribes and Revolution (London: L.R. Turis, 1987)
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.