It was on Sunday, January 19, 2020, and the venue was in Berlin, Germany. There, they gathered. Leaders and diplomats had met and the agenda for the gathering was not far-fetched. The world’s superpowers had met two peeved strong men from war-ravaged North African state of Libya to unlock their ‘horns’ as they continuously fight for supremacy over who rules their country.
But, even before the Libya Summit could come off, it was as predictable as clockwork as it was impossible for the world powers to get the two factions sign a ceasefire deal. The [foreign] protagonists themselves involved in the war had attended that Berlin Summit holding on to their respective entrenched positions. There was no way these protagonists could convince each other let alone getting their candidates in Libya to halt the war.
Writing an opinion piece on Politico.eu dubbed “Road to peace in Libya goes through Turkey”— a day before the Libya Summit, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ostensibly expressed anger aimed at crashing Haftar’s power grab.
“Turkey fully supports Libya’s U.N-backed, legitimate government. Under the most recent security and military cooperation agreements, we pledged to protect the Libyan government from coup plotters. In this regard, we will train Libya’s security forces and help them combat terrorism, human trafficking and other serious threats against international security,” wrote Mr. Erdoğan.
Considering the enormous support Khalifa Haftar enjoys from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France, Russia, US and Saudi Arabia, calling the bluff of the Libya Summit of a no ceasefire deal was not anything too hard to do. He had before that Sunday meeting angrily left Moscow, in Russia, over yet another ceasefire deal without appending his signature to documents.
Then in Sarraj’s camp are another group of supporters being Sudan, Jordan, Turkey, Qatar, Germany and Italy. Certainly, this is more than a complex war. A war that its protagonists would find it extremely hard to end it themselves.
Just 10 days after the Libya Summit, the arms embargo that was placed on Libya is in tatters.
“The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) deeply regrets the continued blatant violations of the arms embargo in Libya, even after the commitments made in this regard by concerned countries during the International Conference on Libya in Berlin,” says unmissions.org.
We are, as well, told that numerous cargo and other flights have been observed landing at Libyan airports in the western and eastern parts of the country providing the parties with advanced weapons, armoured vehicles, advisers and fighters.
For security analyst Adib Saani who heads the Jatikay Centre for Human Security and Peace Building, “It [peace talks] should go beyond the rhetoric. Concrete actions need to be put on the ground. These various actors need to talk among themselves. If it’s the oil they want which is quite obvious then they should find a way to divide the oil [zone] among themselves.” He spoke in an exclusive interview with the International Dialogue.
Of a truth, the fire in Libya could be doused with the intervention of a neutral arbiter. Does the African Union [AU] not overly qualify for this role? It does!
Nonetheless, you ask yourself that in all the back and forth where is the AU? The African Union since the toppling of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi till date has actually become a confused group of states than ever. Was there a unified front of the continent’s powerful states to intervene either diplomatically or militarily in America’s needless intervention in Libya? Is the AU doing so now in the Sarraj-Haftar war? No!
The AU is either clueless or perhaps unable to convince world powers that it has the credibility to resolve the crisis in Libya.
This, when Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey recently met top government officials in Turkey, she tried covering up AU’s chronic shame.
“I believe that the steps that Turkey is taking with Russia and others to bring peace to Libya is a step that I think it’s in the right direction. However, may I also add that, I think, it’s important in taking these steps also to involve the Continental Union, which is the African Union,” she said.
Really? Why does the AU still sit aloof waiting for Turkey or Russia to invite her to the peace process in Libya before it acts?
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey like many African leaders, indeed, “think that the solution sometimes lie within [Africa],” as she said in Turkey, yet they forever prefer to be spoon-fed. What they forget or rather deliberately fail to realize is that the world has no time waiting for Africa.
In recent years, regional and sub-regional organizations have become more powerful and interested in matters affecting their regional or sub-regional bloc. The Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] became a pacesetter in resolving Gambia’s 2016/17 election debacle which would have been one of the bloodiest political conflicts of our time. Are these regional blocs useful than the AU? Perhaps, yes!
The African Union cannot justify its silence in the Libyan crisis. The Union has not shown enough leadership for the many souls perishing in the North Africa state. If the European Union among other reasons is concerned about Libya because that is the African migrants’ gateway to their territory, is the AU also not concerned that thousands of its labour force are dying on the Mediterranean? Must the AU be told that repeatedly failing the same examination of incompetence is but shameful?
If the AU were a force to reckon with, it would have by now stood face-to-face with the protagonists in Libya’s war and levelled sanctions on them to retract its supply of weapons to the North African state. And, these let-alone powerful states would have quietly obliged such a command from the continental body. Rather, it is the opposite.
Africa’s leaders have failed Africans. They hardly value human lives. Saying the truth as it is or ought to be, thousands more of our compatriots will continue to perish in Libya since resolving of the conflict there is left in the hands of the same world powers that lied in toppling Muammar Gaddafi. Today, Libya— once a beautiful young woman with promising breasts— woefully wobbles on her feet. The falcon, indeed, cannot hear the falconer!
Is there an end in sight to Libya’s war? No. If for anything, the fire in the North African country could be doused temporarily. Remember, it is not that simple and easy for the protagonists to walk away from the dining table of Libya knowing that it is leading on the table of African countries with the highest volumes of oil reserves. Libya was Africa’s Europe and the Americas.
It was rich and fertile soil for growth.
We— the AU— looked on to its destruction. If you are an African reading this piece, please skip your food today so we join hands in mourning a lost jewel.
By Solomon Annan & Solomon Mensah
The writers are Ghanaian journalists who have interest in the world’s politics with an unflinching eye mainly on what pertains in Africa. Views expressed here are solely theirs and do not, in anyway, reflect the editorial policy of this media organisation.
Twitter: @abisolo7 & @aniwaba