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Is the EU still a power broker in the Libyan conflict?

Regional and Local Affairs
Date: Monday, 03 February 2020 17:00 - 20:00

Venue: Middle East Dialogue Center - Brussels

Policy Brief:

The past five years have offered Libyans many democratic challenges. With the continued conflict between the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) under the leadership of Libyan General Khalifa Haftar and Prime Minister Fayez Al Serraj, and the implication of international actors moved by various interests in the region, the situation in Libya is increasingly fragile. The UN-mediated 2015 political deal has been severely hindered, and the country is facing a number of challenges regarding its political stability, economic development and security.

On Europe's doorstep, the conflict in Libya is not only escalating sharply, but is also becoming internationalized. In recent months, Libyan General Khalifa Haftar has received significant reinforcement and advanced weaponry from Russia, which has altered the dynamics of battle and enabled General Khalifa Haftar to make gains into Tripoli. Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al Serraj has become increasingly desperate as he faces the Libyan strongman’s army, which is backed by the UAE, Egypt, Russia, and several EU Member States, including France. 

Following the signing of a security pact with Ankara last November, Serraj’s government issued a call for assistance from Turkish forces. Turkey subsequently announced the sending of troops and visited regional stakeholders such as Algeria, seeking to develop a broader alliance. This month, President Erdogan also met with President Vladimir Putin to discuss developments in Libya, in what increasingly looks like an attempt by the pair to become primary power brokers in the conflict.

To this, the European Union had rapidly responded to the Libyan uprising in 2011 and still continues to support democratic transition, socioeconomic integration, health services delivery and NGOs capacity building. However, Turkey and Russia have a growing role in Libya and intend to play a key role in any potential negotiations.

Where does the EU stand in this equation, considering European Council President Charles Michel’s promise that the EU would step up efforts to deescalate tensions? Can the EU still be considered as the major power broker in the conflict?


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