Libya’s Ceasefire Should Set a Precedent for Syria

Following the announcement of the Libyan ceasefire two weeks ago, delegates from Libya’s National Army (LNA) and the Government of National Accord (GNA) met for talks in Morocco on Sunday at the behest of the Moroccan Government.

The Libyan Dialog

Dubbed the Libyan Dialog, the discussions brought together five members of the GNA and five from a parliament in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk. They met in Morocco’s coastal town of Bouznika, south of Rabat.

The talks were a prelude to a significant meeting in Montreux, Switzerland to be held today and Tuesday that will bring together the leaders of Libya’s rival factions.

The United Nations (UN) will be monitoring the talks closely and insisted that a solution to the Libyan war must be decided by the Libyan people themselves.

The Libyan Ceasefire Would Pave the Way for a Truce in Syria

The last decade witnessed the start of two almost seemingly endless conflicts in Libya and Syria, with Turkey and Russia vying for control over both nations. But if the Libyan ceasefire paves the way for a permanent and peaceful end to the war there, there is a chance that it could set a precedent for a ceasefire in Syria too.

As Talmiz Ahmad of Arab News writes, Syria has too many fronts and too many contending players. Rather like with the Libyan city of Sirte, Idlib has become a city of strategic importance to both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to Ahmad, there are reports that the Syrian Government and its advisors are planning a major assault to decimate the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) and seize control of this rebel territory. Turkey may also be negotiating with Russia the possible accommodation of its interests in Libya in exchange for its acceptance of some actions against HTS in Idlib.

Erdoğan is supposedly adamant that the HTS is not a terrorist threat anymore, but a mainstream political entity.

Peace is Dependent upon Diplomatic Action

Diplomatic action has a role to play here. The Russian Government hosted a conclave of the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), and the Popular Will Party that it supports. The SDC wishes to maintain relations with Russia, despite its support from the US, as a means of restraining Turkey.

Anything is possible once the assault in Idlib has taken place. One peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict is to rewrite Syria’s constitution, which was attempted at a meeting in Geneva. When one opposition leader demanded a ceasefire, all the parties involved in the Syrian war ignored this request.

It seems like all the key players are focused on the upcoming siege of Idlib right now.

The Syrian War is Only Getting Uglier by the Day

US President Donald Trump, who was elected on a promise to end all of America’s “pointless” wars, should be interested in an end to the Syrian conflict as well. The US and Russian standoff in Syria risks prolonging a war that has lasted for too long. Four American troops were recently injured in the country and as Business Insider’s Christopher Mott argues, Syria’s oil reserves are not worth fighting over. Syria possesses 2,500,000,000 oil barrels, making it 31st in the world for its number of oil barrels. If anything, Washington’s presence in Syria is provoking Iran.

US-Iranian disputes over Syria continue to foreshadow any solution toward peace. Iran’s mission to the UN has issued a statement saying Tehran will continue helping the Syrian Government after a spokesperson of the US State Department told Newsweek that removing Iranian-backed proxies is a key US objective. Washington and Tehran are unlikely to engage in a diplomatic solution to restore peace to Syria until they have resolved their differences over the end of Obama’s 2015 Iran Deal.

The Libyan ceasefire shows that it is possible to pave the way for an end to continuous regional conflicts. The impetus for a Syrian ceasefire is there, but peace does not seem possible until the latest siege of Idlib has happened.

Compared to Libya, the world could be waiting longer for a Syrian ceasefire until all sides can compromise over their objectives there. They must do so fast, because the Syrian war only continues to get uglier over time.