Libya: Alarming new cycle of violence is fertile ground for foreign intervention

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program by CIHRS

CIHRS condemns the continuous military interference of UN member States in Libyan affairs which, since 2016, has undermined local, national and international efforts toward a fundamental, peaceful political solution. We condemn the Turkish parliament’s decision to approve military deployment following two MoUs signed between Turkey and Libya; this decision includes sending fighters to Libya to support the GNA in Tripoli, the UN-recognized government.

The potential Turkish military intervention threatens further deterioration in the humanitarian situation for Libyan citizens, who have been living in conflict since 2014. These conditions have already worsened since the paramilitary groups led by General Khalifa Haftar, the self-called “Libyan National Arab Army- LNA” backed by UAE and Egypt, attack on Tripoli on April 2019. According to UNSMIL: “…at least 284 civilians killed and 363 injured in Libya this year. These figures represent an increase of more than 25 per cent over the same period last year.” “Most of the casualties were due to airstrikes, which accounted for 182 deaths and 212 injuries, followed by ground fighting, improvised explosive devices, abductions and killings.”

Neil Hicks, head of the advocacy program at CIHRS, stressed that ” The international community must turn away from policies that fuel war crimes and gross violations of human rights in countries like Yemen, Syria and Libya.” He added: “The members of the Security Council and other major powers must empower the United Nations to carry it out its essential functions, rather than undermining it. Powerful states should turn away from military intervention as policy and instead renew sustained efforts to end conflicts across the region.”

Foreign interventions in Libya have empowered armed groups and militias that receive direct military assistance from foreign countries. In consequence, internal warfare in Libya has continued and intensified. Violent radical armed groups have flourished in these circumstances. These groups are not only ISIS or ISIS-aligned,  but also include groups aligned with Haftar’s forces, Salafist armed groups aligned with the UN-recognized government, and groups linked to Al- Qaida.

Both major Libyan political forces –the Haftar-led LNA and the GNA in Tripoli – are committing grave human rights violations and breaches to international humanitarian law, with the complicity of States providing weapons and ammunition to armed groups in Libya. According to the UN Security Council (UNSC) panel of experts’ documentation published in several annual reports since 2015, Egypt and UAE have provided weapons and ammunition to the Haftar forces (LNA) and from the other side, Turkey is providing the GNA with military equipment. These military transfers are made in violation of the UNSC embargo on Libya. Illegal support from other states has led to the tragic deaths of hundreds in Libya; the forced displacement of thousands; the systematic use of torture, including against migrants, and the destruction of a peaceful solution to the Libyan conflict.

Since 2016, the UN has finalized a long process of political mediation between Libyan conflicting parties, after more than one year of negotiations.  However, this political agreement has never been implemented mainly because of the inexistence of security sector reform and lack of accountability. Furthermore, the fact that the internal parties have found direct bilateral military support has destroyed any cooperation between the conflicting Libyan parties, since each can rely on foreign allies to challenge UN efforts and attempt to gain control of territory.

We reiterate that to end the armed conflict and revive a successful peace process in Libya, the only positive support UN member states can offer is to stop any provision of military support to Libyan parties. Furthermore, states must pressure all warring parties for an immediate cease-fire and work immediately on a transparent national plan to be sponsored by UNSMIL, with CSO participation; to draft a vision toward the re-structuring of state and security institutions in Libya; and to adopt a resolution through the UN Human Rights Council establishing an international investigation mechanism into grave human rights and international humanitarian law violations.

Photo: Zayn Alarbi

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