FAST FIVE: Libya's Haftar Leaves Putin-Sponsored Talks In Moscow Without Signing Ceasefire

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Libya's Haftar Leaves Putin-Sponsored Talks In Moscow Without Signing Ceasefire Head the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, Fayez al-Sarraj, and Benghazi-based General Khalifa Haftar who is now warring for control of the capital, were actually in the same building in Moscow for peace talks on Monday – an extremely rare and unlikely event in its own right.  The Putin-sponsored talks follow an agreement between the Russian president and Turkey's Erdogan last week to issue an urgent ceasefire call in Libya (the urgent call designated last Saturday for a pause in fighting), but which was immediately rejected by Haftar, despite Russia being among his political backers.  Monday's talks may have also been awkward for Haftar-Russian ties, given Haftar departed Moscow without signing the agreement for an “unconditional open-ended” ceasefire even after the GNA's Sarraj did.  Khalifa Haftar greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow Jan.13, via Reuters/Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

And Europe is nowhere to be seen.” While France and Italy were quarrelling about Libya, Russia and Turkey took the initiative. – Mathieu von Rohr (@mathieuvonrohr) January 13, 2020 Amid Haftar delaying signing the deal, the Russian military is still touting that the Libyan rivals agreed to an “ongoing ceasefire” according to the AFP.

Russia has vowed to continue pushing peace efforts.  But the reality will only be tested on the ground, where mortars and missiles continue to fly across the suburbs on the outskirts of Tripoli.  President Erdogan meanwhile used the occasion to slam Haftar, saying Turkey will “teach a lesson” to the LNA leader if attacks resume.

Turkey has recently sent troops to bolster the besieged GNA in Tripoli, after having for years provided support in the form of military hardware, including drones.  This opens the potential for the entire situation to spill over into a broader regional proxy war, given also Egypt has condemned Turkish intervention in the war, and has warned it could send its own troops if Ankara and other external actors don't back down.

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