Germany, France and Italy are increasing pressure to resolve the conflict in Libya, at least officially: Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Marcon and Italy’s Guiseppe Conte have stated openly that states that violate the UN arms embargo on Libya should be seriously punished. The only question now is how exactly this would happen.

Will Sanctions Be Enough to Enforce a Libya Ceasefire?

Germany, France and Italy have threatened to punish countries that fail to abide by the UN arms embargo on Libya. Chancellor Merkel, President Macron and Premier Conte said on the sidelines in a joint statement that they were ready to “consider imposing sanctions” should violations of the embargo at sea, on land or in the air continue of the EU special summit was published.

However, names of states that could be considered for sanctions are not mentioned in the declaration, even if the suspects are widely known. France, for example, has long accused Turkey of violating the arms embargo by delivering arms to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA). Turkey, in turn, accuses countries such as the United Arab Emirates and France of supplying the opposite side of the Libyan National Army (LNA) with weapons.

What About Operation Irini?

The EU launched Operation Irini in spring to monitor the Libyan arms embargo. The primary aim of the military operation is to stabilize Libya and to support the UN-led political peace process. In addition to arms smuggling, the EU operation is designed to prevent illegal oil smuggling. Moreover, the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy personnel will continue to be trained to help break the business model of trafficking and trafficking networks.

If the sanctions were actually enforced they would presumably be imposed on persons or companies involved in arms deliveries to Libya in the EU framework. Those affected should fear asset freezes and EU entry bans. The punitive measures could be based on reports from the United Nations on violations of sanctions. In this way, the knowledge gained during the EU operation Irini is also transmitted to New York for evaluation.

The Reality of the Libyan War

In Libya, an internationally recognized but almost powerless government is fighting in the capital, Tripoli, and a counter-parliament in the east of the country is dominating led by General Khalifa Haftar. The latter control the oil wells in the east and recently tried to conquer Tripoli, which did not succeed. For weeks, both sides have been preparing for a fight for the city of Sirte, which is essential for oil exports and is considered key to the outcome of the war.

Both warring parties are supported logistically, financially and militarily by foreign actors. Turkey and Qatar are behind the GNA government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. Haftar and the LNA are supported by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. The USA had also helped Haftar in the fight against the Islamic State.

Proxy War Intensifies

Some of the foreign countries that support one of the warring parties are becoming increasingly aggressive in the Libyan civil war. The US military recently announced that Russian mercenaries were said to have laid landmines around Tripoli. The so-called Wagner group, a private unit equipped by the Kremlin, made 800 to 1,200 fighters available to Haftar, according to UN experts. Russia, as usual, denies playing a role in the conflict.

The situation could now come to a head again, as threats have been coming from Egypt since Monday that Cairo will go straight into the conflict after Parliament approves an intervention. In keeping with this, the Haftar camp in Egypt recently called for military operations to begin in the neighboring country.

The Importance of Egypt’s Role

The parliamentary mandate only provides that the Egyptian armed forces only have the right to intervene in Libya if they see “an immediate threat to security.” In Egypt’s view, however, this seems to be the case. Turkey has invaded Libya militarily, has occupied the country and is now threatening Egypt, Cairo claims.

Last month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt warned that an attack by Libyan government forces on Sirte was a “red line.” Haftar’s troops have held the city so far but were pushed back with Turkish help after their failed offensive on Tripoli.

Civil war has raged in Libya since the downfall of long-term ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011. After a temporary relaxation of the situation, the violence escalated again. In 2014, a general election failed, and numerous militias began to fight for influence. By now the violence has spiraled completely out of control. While Europe has a key interest in stabilizing the country, Russia and Turkey, in particular, are continuously attempting to subvert European effort – albeit for different reasons.

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