Egypt’s president Saturday announced a unilateral initiative to end the civil war in neighbouring Libya, a plan accepted by the commander of the eastern forces that have suffered heavy losses in recent weeks.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi told a news conference in Cairo that his initiative includes a cease-fire starting Monday and is meant to pave the way for elections in oil-rich Libya.
He warned against continuing to look for a military solution to the country’s crisis.
“There can be no stability in Libya unless peaceful means to the crisis are found that include the unity and integrity of the national institutions,” el-Sissi said. “The initiative could be a new start in Libya.”
There was no immediate comment from the U.N.-supported government based in Tripoli, but a spokesman for the military forces allied with it said they would continue fighting to capture the city of Sirte, east of Tripoli, which Commander Khalifa Hifter’s east-based forces took in January.
Mohamed Gnono said Tripoli-allied forces Saturday took control of the town of al-Washka east of the important port city of Misrata. “We did not start this war, but it is we who will determine when and where it will end,” he said.
The conference in Cairo was attended by Hifter and Aguila Saleh, speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives. Several foreign diplomats, including U.S., Russian, French and Italian envoys attended. Hifter and Saleh are allies.
There were no representatives of the Tripoli-based administration, or of its main backers, Turkey and Qatar, at the conference.
Egypt’s initiative comes on the heels of Hifter’s major losses in western Libya and failure to carry on with a major offensive to seize control of Tripoli that Hifter launched in April last year.
The future of the conflict in Libya appears to be open to one of two scenarios: either de-escalation or a full-blown proxy war with major regional and international powers involved in outright conflict.
It was yet to be seen whether the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord will continue to press eastward to seize control of the vital oil installations, terminals and fields that tribes allied with Hifter shut down earlier this year. The shut-down paralyzed the country’s major source of income.
El-Sissi’s plan also comes amid the backdrop of U.S. warnings against Russia’s “fanning the flames” of the conflict, saying that it could deploy its own forces in Tunisia to deter the Russians from destabilizing North Africa.
Dear readers, we really need your support to keep on serving you with authoritative, truthful, and juicy stories everyday. For your support, please reach out to the editor @firstname.lastname@example.org