The tripartite meeting of foreign ministers of Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria held a consultative meeting on the situation in Libya on Wednesday, according to a statement issued by spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry Ahmed Hafez.
The meeting comes to follow up the implementation of a tripartite presidential initiative to reach a comprehensive political settlement to the Libyan crisis.
Hafez’s statement concluded by pointing out that the Tunis meeting comes as a complement to the successive ministerial meetings of the tripartite ministerial mechanism on Libya, held alternately between the capitals of the three countries, where Cairo hosted the last meeting on March 5, 2019.
The three foreign ministers will probe ways to halt the current fighting in the North African country and resume the UN-sponsored political process among Libyan factions, especially in light of the ongoing armed clashes in the vicinity of Tripoli, according to a statement by the Tunisian Foreign Ministry.
They will also discuss the latest developments in the Libyan arena and steps required to encourage the warring parties to stop the fighting and return to the negotiating table, which in turn could help end the bloodshed and preserve Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the statement added.
The three countries have so far hosted six meetings, as part of the Tunis Declaration signed on February 20, 2017 to find a comprehensive political settlement in Libya.
In March 2019, foreign ministries of Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria held a tripartite meeting in Cairo to discuss the developments on the Libyan scene and possible political solutions to its crisis.
The three ministers asserted their commitment to backing Libya and its people in that critical phase of its history.The ministers added they would help in achieving national reconciliation in a way that reinstates security and stability in the entire country, affirming their support to Libya’s territorial integrity, unity, independence, and sovereignty.
Egypt has hosted several meetings to bring the Libyan conflicted factions to the negotiations table to resolve the Libyan crisis and amend the Skhirat Agreement, which aims at ending Libya’s civil war.
The major obstacle in the face of any international or Arab participation in ending the crisis in Libya is the lack of a Libyan partner that would support any mediation. Since 2014, there are two major factions on the ground, one led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army, who now controls the eastern side of Libya and works in cooperation with the government of the House of Representatives, known as the Tobruk government. The other is led by Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord.
Therefore, there is no official side recognized by all parties in Libya, but there are two opposing factions, roughly equivalent in terms of power, competing for legitimacy. Nonetheless, neither side appears to be able to tip the scales of this conflict in its favor.
Egyptian diplomatic efforts in Libya
Policymakers in Egypt believe that Libya should have a unified body representing all sides in the war-torn country. However, this requires the elimination of terrorist groups that are plaguing the country and standing in the way of any regional or international attempt for reconciliation.
The Egyptian state is aware that any intervention in Libyan affairs will enrage the Libyan people due to religious and national sensitivities.
Therefore, Egypt called for a meeting in August 2014 to discuss the formation of a coalition force with the United States and other Arab nations. The final recommendation of the meeting, held in Cairo, did not suggest the formation of any Arab or international military intervention in Libya, but it called for the immediate cessation of all armed operations in order to support the political process in Libya.
In December 2015, the Skhirat Agreement was signed by major parties in the Libyan conflict under the supervision of UN envoy Martin Kobler in the city of Skhirat, Morocco. The agreement recommends a peaceful transition of power and the establishment of a national unity government. However, the agreement failed to achieve the desired stability on the ground because it lacked consensus.
Egypt’s officials held several meetings with their Libyan counterparts as well as members in Tobruk’s House of Representatives to resolve the Libyan crisis and amend the Skhirat agreement.
In December 2016, Cairo hosted a conference attended by Libyan officials and representatives from the country’s numerous factions, where they issued five proposed amendments to the agreement. The conference concluded with a decision to amend the eighth article of the Skhirat Agreement that outlined the jurisdiction of the Libyan army chief commander.
Negotiations to unify the Libyan military were held as a part of Egypt’s initiative that kicked off in July 2017 to unify the military institutions. The first meeting aimed at creating a framework for the initiative while the second and third meetings were held in Cairo from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2, 2017, to follow up on the results of the first meeting.
The fourth meeting was held from Dec. 6 to 9 to restructure the Libyan army.
Egyptian Officials met again with Libyan military forces in Cairo on Feb. 21, 2018 in order to continue the discussions. The meetings delved into the methods used to unify and restructure the Libyan military forces after a long split that resulted from the outbreak of the Libyan revolution in 2011.
The sixth round of the negotiation on the unification of the Libyan military establishment was held on March 23 in Cairo.
In a press release issued at the conclusion of the meeting, the Libyan factions convening in Cairo agreed to resume their talks in an attempt to complete the establishment of the four technical committees that the Libyan factions agreed on forming during the previous rounds of talks as an initial step towards the consolidation of the military establishment of Libya.
The meeting also concluded with reaffirming the participants’ keenness to move ahead with unifying the Libyan army whose top priority is to maintain and preserve Libya’s national security and peace and stand firm against foreign interferences.
Members of the Security Council welcomed recent efforts to strengthen an inclusive political dialogue among all Libyans, supported by Libya’s neighbors, international partners and regional organizations within the framework of the Libyan Political Agreement endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2259.