What Haftar’s readiness to continue talks in Moscow means for Libya

What Haftar’s readiness to continue talks in Moscow means for Libya

The commander of the Libyan National Army’s decision to participate in continued talks is a sign of hope for a successful continuation of the peace process that began in Istanbul.

Libyan National Army Commander General Khalifa Haftar has said he supports the initiative to hold peace talks in Moscow. He expressed his readiness in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The text of the letter has been published on the Kremlin’s website.

“I would like to thank you and express my full support for Russia’s initiative to conduct peace negotiations in Moscow that should lead to peace in Libya,” Haftar said in his letter.

The commander of the Libyan National Army also announced that he was ready to accept Putin’s invitation to visit the Russian Federation in order to continue the dialogue.

The turning point

On January 13 in Moscow, Turkey and Russia organized negotiations between the parties to the conflict in Libya. For the first time in a long while, General Haftar and the head of the National Accord Government (GNA) Fayez Sarraj were present in the same building, negotiating through Turkish and Russian mediators.

These negotiations became possible after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin called on the parties to the conflict in Libya to begin a ceasefire on January 12. It is worth noting that it was Erdogan who initially proposed the idea to discuss Libyan issue alongside Russian leadership.

Erdogan’s plan was successful: with the help of Moscow, Turkey managed to launch the negotiation process in Libya and put Haftar at the negotiation table with Sarraj. Thus, a way to secure Turkish interests in Libya without the massive invasion of Turkish troops was opened.

Now, all the parties to the Libyan conflict have declared adherence to the ceasefire regime negotiated by Russia and Turkey. This is one more sign that the process of reconciliation in Libya is on the right track.

Ready to talk

Haftar’s statement indicates that the leader of Libyan National Army continues to remain in the orbit of Moscow’s influence and is ready for a constructive dialogue as part of the process that was launched by Erdogan and Putin. Haftar is indicating that he is trustworthy to at least some degree, and that reconciliation efforts with his participation should continue.

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It also shows that Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was absolutely right when he said that  it is too soon to say that the ceasefire in Libya had collapsed.

Moreover, Haftar’s readiness to return to Moscow to continue the dialogue indicates that the January 13 talks were an important step towards the Libya conference in Berlin. Holding the talks in Moscow is critical in order to maintain neutrality: for understandable reasons, Haftar would not agree to participate in any talks held in Ankara.

Recall that in Syria, amid the setbacks in the negotiations in Geneva, the Astana process arose. In this format diplomats from Turkey, Iran and Russia began to play a leading role, and proved themselves to be extremely productive.

Similarly, the new format of the talks that Erdogan and Putin launched could lead to a significant breakthrough in the peace process.

United World International

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September 2021