Ending a nine-month campaign to capture Tripoli, the capital of Libya, General Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army (LNA) declared a ceasefire on Sunday, January 12, 2020.
According to the general’s spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari, the contingent ceasefire in the western region of the country (including Tripoli) started at the stroke of midnight -12:01 a.m. local time. He further warned that if the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) retaliates, “the response will be harsh to any breach of this armistice.”
Hours after General Haftar’s ceasefire statement, Fayez al-Sarraj, Head of GNA also announced an agreement to the ceasefire. Although the Tripoli-based government claimed that the ceasefire was violated just minutes after going into effect by Haftar and his militias, the internationally recognized government is adhering to the truce in pursuit of peace.
Nevertheless, GNA laid out a series of conditions for both sides to follow which involves the right to self-defense in the event of “any attack or aggression that may occur from the other party.” Similarly, they also concluded that the ceasefire will be “under the supervision of the United Nations.” Of which The United Nations Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) is in full support of.
Since April 2019, forces loyal to Haftar have been waging a campaign against the GNA to take Tripoli. However, the power struggle between LNA and GNA in the North African country dates back to 2011 when longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi was assassinated.
International diplomacy, especially from Russia and Turkey, have been at the fore-front advocating a truce between the two conflicting sides. While Russian mercenaries support Haftar, Turkey backs the Tripoli-based GNA.
On Wednesday, January 8, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met in Istanbul to discuss a ceasefire and bilateral cooperation regarding the conflict situation in Libya. Also, Turkey asked Russia to convince Haftar who had initially vowed to fight on, to respect the truce on Saturday, January 11, 2020.
The meeting came after the Turkish Parliament passed a bill earlier this month authorizing troops to be deployed to Libya in order to help the GNA push back against Haftar’s offensive.
Reuters reports that the Turkish-Russian ceasefire call came as the United Nations and European powers pushed for a summit later this month in Berlin aimed at winding down foreign involvement and resuming a peace process upended by Haftar’s advance.
In his parliamentary speech on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, Tayyip Erdogan Turkey’s president said that “if the putschist Haftar’s attacks against the people and legitimate government of Libya continue, we will never refrain from teaching him the lesson he deserves.”
Erdogan revealed that Haftar had “run away” from Moscow immediately after Monday’s peace talks between him and the head of the Tripoli-based government, Fayez al-Serraj. Similarly, Turkey’s president stated that “it is our duty to protect our kin in Libya,” adding that Turkey had deep historical and social ties with the North African country and that Haftar would have taken over the entire nation if they had not intervened.