Libya: “Faces Real Risk of Partition”

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In an interview with AXADLE, Wolfram Lacher, a senior associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, warned of a “real risk” of partitioning in Libya. He said this could be done either by escalating the fighting or because a “frozen conflict” scenario would take hold.

Speaking to AXADLE from Berlin, Lacher said that, for the first time, there is a risk that the fighting in Libya could no longer be carried out by authorizations but would take place openly between foreign powers. He said the world should “take seriously” the threat of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to intervene if government-backed forces move toward the strategic city of Sirte. Both Egypt and Turkey “played a chicken game” that could very well end up in a direct confrontation between them, says Lacher, the author of a new book entitled “Libya’s Fragment: Structure and Process in Violent Conflict”.

Lacher expressed pessimism about the revival of a UN-led negotiation process, noting that Turkey and Russia are violating an agreement between them to control Libya while Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, the US and France opposed such a system.

He also criticized France’s support for General Khalifa Haftar, stressing that he could not understand why Paris continued to support him despite his shortcomings and his failure to seize the capital Tripoli. He added that France’s strong dismissal of Turkey’s role in Libya was misleading.

He noted that while Turkey had openly supported Fayez al-Sarraj, both the United Arab Emirates and Russia had sent more weapons to Haftar, including Russian fighter jets that could be used in the near future. He estimated that the only solution for Haftar to retain some influence was to maintain control of Libya’s east in a “frozen conflict” scenario.

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