By Sami Zaptia.
London, 13 January 2020:
Both sides in the conflict have accused the other of violating Tripoli’s ceasefire within its very first twenty-four hours. However, sample reports from Tripoli seem to suggest that, overall, the firing has very much decreased indicating that the ceasefire is holding up.
However, the fact that the Libyan Civil Aviation authority has announced the reopening of Mitiga airport is a good confirmatory signal that there is enough confidence in the ceasefire to send passenger flights into Tripoli’s skies.
The Faiez Serraj-led and internationally recognized Presidency Council reported that the ceasefire was violated within hours of its start by the pro Khalifa Hafter forces in Ain Zara and Wadi Rabea, and called on UNSMIL and the sponsors of the ceasefire to ensure its full implementation.
The Presidency Council also took the opportunity in this statement to slip in what looked like a new condition for the ceasefire by restating its ‘‘fixed position’’ that the enemy (Khalifa Hafter) must withdraw his troops from the front lines and return back to their places of origin. The statement added that this is the only way to ensure the ceasefire holding. This condition had not been listed in the Presidency Council’s original ceasefire acceptance statement on Saturday.
On the other hand, the pro Hafter forces, in turn, reported that they had logged 30 cases of the ceasefire being violated ‘‘within hours’’ on all fronts by the forces defending Tripoli. These included an attempt to drop a shell using a drone. They claim they had shot down this drone. They also report the arrival of a new batch of ‘’Syrian terrorists’’ through the city of Misrata. these they claim were distributed along two different Tripoli battlefronts.
Meanwhile Libya related diplomatic activity continues apace on a multiplicity of fronts.
After visiting Rome on Saturday, Faiez Serraj visited Istanbul for talks with Turkish president Erdogan yesterday. The PC reported that Serraj called on the sponsors of the ceasefire to ensure that there are no violations and that the Hafter troops should withdraw from the front lines.
They also discussed the executive programme of the two Memorandums of Understanding signed last November on security cooperation and the identification of areas of maritime rights in the Mediterranean.
Not to be outdone, the head of the internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR), Ageela Saleh, visited Cairo on Sunday. At a speech in the Egyptian parliament, Saleh confirmed his support for the Hafter forces, vowed to cleanse Tripoli of armed militias and terrorism, vowed to build a state of laws and institutions and condemned foreign and Turkish intervention in Libyan affairs.
More pertinently, he suggested that Egyptian forces may have to intervene in Libya if Turkish forces intervened on behalf of the Serraj administration.