Last week Turkey and Russia brought the leaders of the warring factions in Libya to the table in the hopes of reaching a deal for a permanent ceasefire. The effort was unsuccessful.
Now it’s Europe’s turn.
Germany will host a conference in Berlin on Sunday aimed at bringing about a ceasefire, and constructing a roadmap to eventual political reconciliation in Libya. Europe is finally opening its eyes to what has been going on in Libya and the implications it has for Europe. The civil war currently underway in Libya, aided and funded by a number of nation-states on both sides, is destabilizing North Africa, a region historically considered to be Europe’s backyard.
The most surprising aspect is that it has taken so long for Europe’s geopolitical interest in Libya to rekindle. Libya has always been there, and since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, it has been playing a role in European Union politics to varying degrees. Migration, energy, and security are three of the main aspects that have been adversely affected by the fighting, and political chaos in Libya. However, none of the above-mentioned issues are responsible for the sudden European interest in Libya. It’s all about geopolitics, and the growing influence of Turkey, and Russia in the conflict has set off alarm bells in European capitals.
Unfortunately for Europe, its renewed interest could be coming a bit too late. The extended period of inaction prior to the upcoming conference puts Europe out of position to influence events, and paints it as ineffectual. The European Union is already split on Libya with Italy supporting the Government of National Accord (GNA) and France backing the Libyan National Army and Khalifa Haftar.
Outside of Europe, expectations for the conference in Berlin are tempered. Turkey and Russia’s positions regarding Libya are firmly entrenched with the Turks backing the GNA, and Russia firmly in Haftar’s camp. If these two most-influential parties were unable to broker a permanent ceasefire agreement in Moscow last weekend, the chances of the UN, and Europe pulling it off this weekend are not great.