Politico: LNA’s advances get European backing

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

TRIPOLI – Fayez Al-Sarraj came to Europe to shore up support for his government but he left disappointed, American news website Politico reported on Friday.

Al-Sarraj made a three-day visit to Rome, Berlin, Paris and London this week. But according to Politico, instead of the unequivocal condemnation of the military operation launched by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in Tripoli, that he was seeking, Al-Sarraj “was told the best international diplomacy could offer was a ceasefire that would not require Haftar to withdraw.”

“The strongest line came from French President Emmanuel Macron who “encouraged an unconditional ceasefire” based on a line delineated “under international supervision,” according to an Élysée readout of his meeting with Al-Sarraj.”

“A high-level French diplomat admitted it was “unrealistic” to ask Haftar to withdraw and return to his previous positions.”

“The Élysée is not alone in this position … amongst European capitals there seems to be a common thread to demand a ceasefire without withdrawal,” said Claudia Gazzini, a Libya analyst at the International Crisis Group.

Even Italy, which has been more sympathetic toward Al-Sarraj’s government, and has been at odds with France on Libya, seems to have accepted this new line, Gazzini said, in the wake of a change in position by the United States.

Late April, U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on the phone with Field Marshal Haftar and discussed with him the ongoing counter-terrorism efforts by the Libyan National Army (LNA).

According to Politico, “frustration has been building with Al-Sarraj’s government’s inability to make good on organizing elections and reining in the motley collection of extremist groups that have proliferated in the country.”

Clashes erupted in Tripoli between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and militias of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) after LNA launched a military operation in the capital on April 4. LNA’s operation aims to eliminate militias and terrorist groups that dominated the capital since 2011.