The Libyan National Army commander argues that a political dialogue is still necessary to create lasting peace conditions.
During a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, held Wednesday in Paris, France, the Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar said that there are no conditions for a ceasefire in the latest round of the civil war in Libya.
"Distrust among Libyan actors is stronger than ever," said a French presidential official referring to Haftar, who launched a military offensive on April 4 against the Tripoli-based National Accord Government (GNA), which is headed by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj and backed by the United Nations.
"When the ceasefire issue was put on the table, Haftar replied 'with whom to negotiate a ceasefire today,'" the French official added, commenting that the Libyan commander considers that Tripoli's government "is completely infested by militias" and it does not benefit him to "negotiate with militias' representatives."
Although Macron asked Haftar to take the first step towards a ceasefire, the LNA commander responded that an inclusive political dialogue was necessary and that he would be ready for it if ceasefire conditions were created.
The European countries' foreign policies could be, however, a factor obstructing an effective political dialogue between contending forces in Libya.
“France [sees] Libyan society through the reading provided to it. Namely, all those who do not agree with Marshal Haftar are Islamists. And those who call themselves moderate are liars. It's a binary vision summing up a very complicated country. This reading is also propagated by very powerful centers like the Emirates, Saudi Arabia or Egypt,” said Jalel Harchaoui, a researcher at Clingendael Institute in the Netherlands, TV5Monde reports.
Currently, Libya has two governments: a United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, which still controls the capital city and some western areas; and a Tobruk City-based government whose army controls most of the Libyan territory, which is nevertheless less populated as most of the population concentrated at the coastal areas.
On Thursday, the Head of the U.N. Support Mission in Libya, Ghassan Salame, told the U.N. Security Council that the Libyan situation is getting worse and could turn into a long-lasting civil war.
"Libya is on the verge of descending into a civil war which could lead to the permanent division of the country," he said and added that "the damage already done will take years to mend, and that’s only if the war is ended now."
The U.N. officer also reported that the Libyan conflict has so far produced over 460 dead; 2,400 injured; 75,000 displaced and 100,000 people who remain trapped in immediate frontline areas.