This week —thanks to superior air support and Russian mercenaries— Haftar’s LNA succeeded in gaining more ground in its endeavor to capture capital Tripoli. Witnessing significant impact of direct involvement of Russian fighters and weapons in the battlefield, the GNA government rushed for finding support from international actors. Last week, GNA Interior and Foreign ministers were in the USA to garner support against decisive Russian involvement. This week prime minister Serraj was in Ankara to get more military support from Erdogan government. For Serraj, new MoU is only about getting more military backing. This, however, added a new dimension to Libya Crisis. Ongoing power struggle for having a share of the freshly discovered fossil reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean has been added to the Libya stalemate. EU, Russia, US, Israel, some of the states with conflicting interest with Turkey in the Mediterranean; will likely come automatically closer to Egypt, KSA, UAE and Haftar camp.
Serraj’s signature of the MoU shows his despair to find more support in terms of arms and military equipment to maintain the defence of Tripoli. But it is likely that eventually, Serraj will lose more than he gets from this MoU. On the bright side for Serraj, downing of one or allegedly two LNA aircrafts in one day (Saturday) indicates new acquired capabilities, probably attributable to the promises within the MoU stipulating help in the fight against Haftar’s increased military capabilities.
Latest UN Security Council statement urging the member states to not to intervene and reminding about the obligation to obey the UN sanctions on Libya arms embargo has become a useless tradition, which has no bearing on realpolitik. Basically, UNSC is paralyzed due to divergent interests of its members to enforce previously made resolutions let alone making new ones to solve the conflict. UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame tries for this very reason to convene Berlin Conference in his bid to construct a shared Libya policy among primary external stakeholders. Only a unified UNSC can enforce its sanctions and deter the spoilers.
*Non-resident Analyst at Beyond the Horizon ISSG.