The two key warring parties in the Libyan conflict have announced an immediate ceasefire and an end to hostilities in all territories. The announcements, which were made on Friday, August 21, also included calls for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in March 2021, as well as the complete demilitarization of the war-torn cities of Sirte and Al-Jufrah. Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the Tripoli-based Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), which is recognized by the United Nations, said in a statement that he has “issued instructions to all military forces to immediately cease fire and all combat operations in all Libyan territories.”
The statement by the GNA head went on to say that the aim of the truce was to impose “full sovereignty over the Libyan territory and the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries.” Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Aguila Saleh, speaker of the eastern-based Libyan House of Representatives which supports the Libyan National Army (LNA) of General Khalifa Haftar, called on all the warring parties to abide by the ceasefire.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) welcomed the statements, reiterating calls to expel all foreign forces and mercenaries in Libya. In a tweet from its official account, the UNSMIL said that the move will “activate the political process.” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi lauded the ceasefire announcement, calling it “an important step on the road to achieving a political settlement.”
Additionally, the GNA’s statement also called for the lifting of the mutual oil blockade currently in place in the country, which would facilitate the resumption of oil production and export through the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC). Revenues from the oil production and export will be transferred to a special NOC bank account and subsequently distributed evenly as per the Berlin Conference settlement guidelines. The cities of Sirte and Al-Jufrah would also see new security arrangements put in place involving police forces belonging to both sides once complete demilitarization is achieved.
Libya has been ravaged by constant war since the US and NATO invasion in 2011. The invasion resulted in the overthrow and brutal killing of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Attempts made afterwards to form a unified government failed repeatedly, leading to continuous warfare. The fighting peaked last year when General Haftar reached the outskirts of the capital, Tripoli. However, he was not able to capture the capital and his forces were pushed back earlier this year.
A ceasefire deal reached in January between the two parties did not take effect after General Haftar refused to accept it.
Libya has also become the site of a regional geo-political conflict. Despite the fact that the GNA is recognized by the UN, Egypt and key western powers, as well as Russia, are believed to be backing Haftar’s forces. Meanwhile, Turkey emerged as the most significant supporter of the GNA, and even signed an agreement as per which the former extended its maritime border up to the Libyan coastline. The war in Libya has come to have huge ramifications in the race for maritime resources in the Mediterranean, which also involves Israel, Cyprus and Greece.