“It is imperative to unite all Libyan national institutions and to spare the country from the chaos of militias and foreign meddling,” Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said in his speech at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
Egypt and Qatar, which support rival groups in the Libyan conflict, traded accusations at the UN, highlighting how difficult it will be for the UN to push peace efforts in Libya.
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are supporters of Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) who is trying to seize Tripoli from militias aligned to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). While Turkey and Qatar support the Tripoli-based government, and their Islamist militias.
LNA launched their campaign in Tripoli in April with a ground offensive supported by airstrikes, against Tripoli’s armed factions who they recognize as terrorist groups.
“The time has come for a decisive stop to fully address the roots of the Libyan problem through a commitment to the full implementation of all elements of the UN plan,” Al-Sisi stressed, adding that, “It is time to take a bold and decisive stand to fully address the roots of the Libyan problem through a commitment to the full implementation of all elements of the UN plan.”
Increasingly, the conflict in Libya has become a proxy war between foreign countries supporting a number of armed groups formed with the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.
Without mentioning countries specifically, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi told delegates at the UN General Assembly that concerted efforts to prevent armed factions from taking control of Libya and preventing outside parties from intervening in the conflict there.
But Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, who spoke to the same delegates after Egypt’s President Al-Sisi, accused Haftar’s forces of war crimes with impunity.
Earlier, the LNA – commanded by Chief Marshal Khalifa Haftar – accused Qatar again of becoming a base for terrorism in Libya. LNA spokesperson Ahmed Mesmari described Qatar as the main supporter for terrorism in Libya and other countries that witnessed terrorist attacks.
Doha and Cairo’s differences were publicly expressed weeks after UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame unveiled plans for an international conference of foreign powers supporting rival groups in Libya, but did not specify a certain location.
However, Germany emerged as a possible venue for the conference as Berlin tries to hold the conference in October.
Salama believes that Germany can broker an end to the conflict being impartial, in contrast to Italy and France, which have been competing for influence in Libya.
Italy and France have interests in Libya’s oil and gas and are also accused of backing their respective supporters in the conflict.
Both countries brought Haftar and GNA prime minister Fayez Al-Serraj, at two summits in Paris and Palermo last year but failed to make progress.
The two will host a meeting of foreign ministers from countries involved in the Libyan conflict on the sidelines of the UN on Thursday aimed at narrowing differences among all sides.
“There will be no military solution in Libya. Those who believe it are wrong and risk dragging the country to a tragic tum,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters.