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Ex-US official: Libya talks in Switzerland, Morocco designed to keep Haftar away

September 15, 2020 at 10:01 am

Libya’s unity government Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (R) meets with UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman (L) in the capital Tripoli on 10 January 2018 [STR/AFP via Getty Images]

Talks on the Libyan crisis being held in Switzerland and Morocco are designed to exclude renegade General Khalifa Haftar, former US presidential aide, Jeffrey Feltman, announced yesterday.

In a research paper at the American think tank Brookings Institution, Feltman described the recent developments following the Libyan talks in Swizerland’s Montreux and Moroccow’s Bouznika as “few flickers of light penetrating Libya’s deepening gloom,” adding that the talks were “designed to exclude Haftar, giving him an incentive to demonstrate he cannot be sidelined.”

Addressing the current situation in Libya, Feltman said the Libyan “misery is growing worse”, quoting a recent statement by the acting UN Special Representative, Stephanie Williams.

“COVID-19 cases are expanding exponentially in the country [Libya]; Libyans suffer from sustained electricity black-outs in the face of an oil blockade; social protests are being forcefully dispersed; fissures burst open in the Tripoli-based political coalition; and foreign arms shipments continue to make a mockery of the international arms embargo,” the US diplomat pointed out. “On the other hand, the military front lines in Sirte have remained largely quiet since June, and some political discussions have resumed,” he said.

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“Whether these nascent and fragile bright spots symbolize the start of something promising or are quickly extinguished depends in large part on how the international meddlers in Libya react,” Feltman added.

The ex-UN official noted that Egypt would have “little interest in seeing an outright military fight over Sirte, given Cairo’s need to respond to any attempts by Turkish troops and Turkish-sponsored mercenaries to move further east.” He also explained that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was focused on “the Muslim Brotherhood”, adding that it was “watching the Montreux and Morocco discussions warily, ready to step in with cash and arms to prevent what Abu Dhabi would see as Brotherhood dominance.”

Libya has been divided since 2014 between the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and a rival eastern administration in Benghazi, where Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Haftar has dominated. There are also two separate Houses of Representatives each based in one city.