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Wednesday January 15, 2020

Why did Field Marshal Hifter go to Moscow if he did not intend to sign?


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The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar left Moscow without signing a ceasefire agreement ending nine months of fighting. With this announcement, political analyzes of the strong position of the Libyan man supported by Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Cairo, and Paris continued.

Experts said that Marshal refused Hifter’s successor The signing of the ceasefire agreement proposed by Ankara and Moscow on Monday confirms the complexities of the conflict in Libya, especially the external pressures exerted on the warring parties.

The Prime Minister, recognized by the United Nations, Fayez al-Sarraj, and Field Marshal Haftar, who is influential in the Libyan East, did not meet face-to-face in Moscow on Monday, but they negotiated a ceasefire agreement through Russian and Turkish officials.

The forces of the two men have been fighting battles at the gates of Tripoli for nine months.

Ankara supports al-Sarraj, including militarily, while Moscow is suspected of supporting Field Marshal Hifter with arms, money and mercenaries, although she denies this.

More- Al-Sarraj – Haftar: Any reconciliation in Libya without a handshake?

Al-Sarraj signed the agreement, but his opponent surprised everyone and left without signing after first requesting a deadline for reflection.

The draft agreement was presented to the two rivals two days ago, according to Libyan diplomatic sources. Why did Field Marshal Hifter go to Moscow if he did not intend to sign?

Imad Badi, a researcher at the Middle East Institute, pointed out two hypotheses in an interview with the French news agency, saying, “Either he did not sign because he personally decided not to do so, whatever the results. Or that one of his allies decided to support him if he did not.”

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Not signed for not desiring it

But Abdelkader Al-Rahibi, a Libyan political analyst, was more stringent.

“Hifter refused to sign the permanent ceasefire agreement not because he did not want it, but everyone knows that the governments of the capitals of the four countries (Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Cairo, and Paris) are the actual supporters of his military campaign directly or indirectly, and therefore their incompatibility with the signature makes his refusal make sense.” .

“These countries demanded that he continue his military campaign in Tripoli in exchange for increased political and military support, which is a losing bet because he makes the opposing poles raise the pace of their support for the Al-Wefaq government, and the war in Libya becomes more bloody than before,” he added.

For example, Egypt views with suspicion the intervention of Turkey, its regional opponent in Libya.

In this context, Ziad Aqel, a researcher at the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo, considered that Egypt “rejects any agreement or reconciliation between the two parties that might include Turkey’s presence in the Libyan scene.”

He pointed to the presence of Egyptian pressure on Haftar in this regard through “the Egyptian state’s actions on the military level and political interaction.”

For his part, former British ambassador to Libya Peter Millett wrote on Twitter that “Haftar and those who support him believe that he can win militarily.”

Neither Cairo nor Abu Dhabi nor Moscow

But if further evidence of the extent of the complications is needed in the case, Haftar’s gesture is interpreted quite differently by Muhammad al-Jarrah, another Libyan analyst.

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In this regard, he said, Field Marshal Hifter, “through his step, demonstrates that he does not adhere to his sympathizers and supporters. Neither Cairo nor Abu Dhabi nor Moscow.”

In turn, Jonathan Weiner, a Middle East Institute expert and former Washington special envoy in Libya, said on Twitter that “what I have noticed and what senior foreign ministry officials have supported me in the past. The dictator does not belong to anyone.”

After his opponents accused him of wanting to establish a military dictatorship, Haftar, after tightening his grip on eastern Libya, controlled several areas in the south by buying the support of local tribes. Then, in April, he launched an attack on Tripoli with the aim of controlling the center of power.

“Clear answer”

Federica Saini Vasanote, of the Brookings Institution, says the price for this campaign may be “too high” for the mentor.

And when she signs the peace, she adds, “he will be indebted to the foreign countries that supported him, especially the residents of the eastern part” of the country.

“The families of eastern Libya who lost their children in this war are waiting for a clear answer from Haftar, who can end his adventure with victory, at least on paper. Because without it, it will be very difficult for him to return” to the east, Vasanote said.

But other analysts do not rule out the existence of a secret agreement between Ankara and Moscow inappropriate for Haftar and his supporters.

“The two countries could have an ‘under the table’ agreement for a possible political restructuring in Libya” in favor of increasing the influence of Ankara and Moscow, says Claudia Ghazini of the International Crisis Group.

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Regardless of the geopolitical gains and concessions to obtain Libyan oil, Russia hopes to find a market for its weapons and wheat. Turkey also has energy goals, thanks to an agreement signed with the Saraj government.

The agreement to demarcate the maritime borders between Libya and Turkey came under severe criticism, especially in Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, because it allows Ankara to say that it has rights in large areas in the eastern Mediterranean.

/ AFP

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