The self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Haftar, has banned UN flights to and from Tripoli's Mitiga International Airport (MJI) as of Feb. 14. An LNA spokesperson stated Feb. 12 that the UN would no longer be allowed to use Tripoli's only functioning airport because it could not ensure the safety its of flights. Tripoli remains under the control of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Saraj. The UN has criticized LNA's restrictions and has said that such measures would hurt its humanitarian and mediation efforts in the country. The LNA has regularly conducted airstrikes against MJI, shutting it down for days at a time. Additional airstrikes against the airport remain likely in the near term.
Libya's Warring Factions
The LNA's restrictions on flights come amid the UN's ongoing efforts to bring about a lasting ceasefire between Libya's warring factions. The UN announced Feb. 8 that it would continue sponsoring talks with Libyan warring factions throughout February in an attempt to broker a peace agreement. The announcement came after the recent UN-sponsored talks between five senior military officers from the GNA and five senior military officials from the LNA failed to make any significant progress on ceasefire front in Geneva, Switzerland. Despite these talks breaking down, military officials from the LNA and GNA have agreed to hold additional talks in the same city Feb. 18.
LNA and GNA leaders first engaged in indirect talks when Russia and Turkey sponsored talks in Moscow in mid-January. The Berlin peace summit on Libya followed Jan. 19 and was aimed at building trust between the two main warring factions. The most recent round of talks began Feb. 3. Despite regional and international efforts, it is unlikely that any peace agreement will be reached in the foreseeable future, as the LNA and GNA leaders refuse to negotiate directly.
Fighting between the LNA and forces aligned with the GNA has been ongoing since April 2019, when the LNA launched a military operation to seize control of Tripoli. The fighting has killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands more. If the LNA and the GNA sign a peace agreement, it is unlikely to last. The LNA has said that it would not withdraw its forces from the outskirts of Tripoli. Any peace deal will be tenuous due to the number of foreign countries that support the competing factions in Libya. While Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Russia back the LNA, Turkey, Italy, and Qatar provide support to the GNA. These countries pursue divergent interests in Libya that further complicate negotiations; infighting and additional violence will persist in the near term.
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