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Libya’s Sirte Awaits Russian, Turkish Consultations

Libya’s Sirte Awaits Russian, Turkish Consultations

Saturday, 15 August, 2020 - 07:00
A member of the troops loyal to Libya's internationally recognized government rides a military vehicle as he prepares before heading to Sirte (Reuters)

The current stable situation in the Libyan city of Sirte paved the way for renewed regional and international negotiations aimed at reaching a political solution to prevent the outbreak of war.

Speaker Aguila Saleh is preparing to visit the Russian capital, Moscow, in response to an official invitation to consult on his proposal, which he recently discussed with the US ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland.

The proposal suggests establishing a demilitarized solution in Sirte with a complete withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries and setting the city as the headquarters of the new authority.

In addition, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova announced that the new Russian-Turkish interdepartmental consultations on Libya will be held in Moscow in August or September.

Meanwhile, the forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA) accused the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, of reinforcing the road linking Sirte with al-Jufrah, and establishing trenches to prevent any advancement.

The spokesperson for the GNA Sirte, and al-Jufrah operations room, Brigadier General Abdul Hadi Dara said that LNA forces are digging a 4-km trench west of the city, pointing out that his forces monitored the landing of two cargo planes in Benghazi arriving from Latakia airport in Syria.

However, an LNA military official said that the forces are committed to the ceasefire in Sirte, but they continue to monitor the military reinforcements of the GNA forces on the outskirts of the city.

The official, who asked not to be identified, pointed out that weapons and mercenaries still arrive in the city to support the forces, noting that Turkish military cargo planes land at al-Wattaya base and Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli, under GNA’s control.

In addition, Justice and Construction Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, revealed that he informed Sarraj of the party’s intention to take a step backward if that was the demand to accept any settlement that would end the crisis and maintain a peaceful political path.

Head of the party Mohammed Sawwan said he doubts LNA leader will accept any of the possible solutions or political settlements, saying Haftar sees himself above all political frameworks.

In related news, Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) plans to ask the UN to allow it to invest billions of dollars sitting idle in its accounts, after missing out on some $4.1 billion in potential equity returns during nearly a decade of sanctions.

LIA chairman Ali Mahmoud Hasan Mohammed said that the sanctions have had a heavy toll on the fund, with investment curbs meaning it had missed out on around $4.1 billion in potential returns if it had invested in line with the market average.

Libya had previously asked the UN Security Council to approve a sanctions exemption for the LIA in 2016, but this request was turned down as the UN wanted to see a stable government in place before doing so.

In 2011, the UN blacklisted the Authority because it was then controlled by the family of toppled ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Its assets were valued at $67 billion in 2012.

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