Eastern Libya’s strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is fighting the UN-recognized Libyan government (GNA), has left Moscow without signing the truce signed by his rival, Russian diplomats said on Tuesday.
Marshal Haftar had asked Monday evening for a period of reflection until Tuesday morning before signing the formal ceasefire agreement accepted by his rival, Fayez al-Sarraj, but he finally left Moscow without signing on the document negotiated under the auspices of Ankara and Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told AFP.
Troops from both sides have clashed in deadly fighting at the gates of Tripoli for nine months, the strongman of the East hoping to militarily conquer the capital.
The parties have nevertheless seemed so far to respect since Sunday the ceasefire decided on January 8 by presidents Vladimir Poutine and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, testifying to their respective influence while the West seems powerless to weigh on the chaos of Libya.
Ankara supports Sarraj and even deploys soldiers while Moscow, despite its denials, is suspected of supporting Haftar with weapons, money and mercenaries.
The departure of Marshal Haftar from Moscow without signing an agreement raises the question of the viability of an international conference on Libya under the aegis of the UN in Berlin, which is supposed to be held in January. Chancellor Angela Merkel came to Moscow on Saturday, gaining the support of Vladimir Putin.
Fear of climbing
Between the arrival on the Libyan ground of Turkey, the suspected presence of Russian mercenaries and the existence of a multitude of armed groups – notably jihadist militias, arms traffickers and smugglers of migrants – the international community fears to see the Libyan conflict degenerate.
Europe in particular fears that Libya will become a « second Syria » and wants to reduce the migratory pressure at its borders, because it has taken in hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing the conflicts of the Arab-Muslim world in recent years.
For Westerners, Moscow is largely responsible for the conflict in Libya, the country with the largest African oil reserves, because they militarily supported the rebels who overthrew and killed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Apart from geopolitical gains over its rivals and privileged access to Libyan oil, Russia hopes to regain this market for its weapons and its wheat. Especially since Vladimir Putin aims to gain a foothold in Africa.
Turkey also has petroleum aims, thanks to a controversial agreement with the GNA which widens the Turkish continental shelf and allows it to claim the exploitation of certain deposits.