Libya’s PM pushes for French government pressure on Haftar to cease Tripoli assault

libya france
Photo; Mahmud Turkia/AFP
libya france
Photo; Mahmud Turkia/AFP

The leader of Libya’s UN-backed government, Fayez al-Sarraj, will meet France’s Emmanuel Macron in Paris today.

On Tuesday, Mr Sarraj visited Italy and Germany as part of a European tour to unify support against strongman Khalifa Haftar, who ordered an assault on Tripoli on April 4.

France and Britain—along with the US—are reported to have provided some support to Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army in the past, especially in their fight against extremist Islamist elements in Libya. France in particular has provided ongoing political support for Haftar and his forces in recent months, drawing criticism from the UN-backed government in Tripoli and sparking protests in the Libyan capital on April 19.

Haftar leads a formidable fighting force based in the eastern city of Benghazi and presents himself as the only person who can restore stability to a country wracked by conflict. However, fighting has reached a stalemate on the southern outskirts of Tripoli in recent weeks after the Tripoli-based government launched a counter-offensive with the support of militia from neighbouring Misrata.

French pressure on Haftar and his troops will be key to any potential ceasefire. However, regional actors must also be convinced—particularly Egypt and the UAE, which provide military support to the strongman. While a temporary cessation of hostilities could be on the horizon, deep mistrust and divergent interests suggest a lasting peace is unlikely.

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