Moscow talks offer chance for peace in Libya’s post NATO-intervention bloody civil war

Peace talks in Moscow bringing together the leaders of Libya’s warring parties were a serious step forward in attempts to put an end to a brutal civil war sparked by NATO’s disastrous 2011 military intervention.

Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and Khalifa Haftar, who commands the rival Libyan National Army (LNA) forces, spent six hours in closed-door discussions mediated by Russia and Turkey. The meeting came as a bit of a surprise as Haftar previously snubbed the ceasefire suggested by Moscow and Ankara.

By Monday evening Moscow time, a draft agreement between Haftar and al-Sarraj said that both sides supported an “unconditional open-ended” ceasefire, but only GNA representatives signed the deal, while Haftar asked to have till Tuesday morning to consider the agreement, which also called for a “military commission to determine a contact line” between the warring parties. Russian media reported that while the two men were in the same building, al- Sarraj refused to engage in direct talks with Haftar.

While unsurprisingly no major breakthrough was made Monday, the Moscow talks were an important step and were intended to pave the way for another summit to be held in Berlin later this month. A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that the planned Berlin talks would be the start of a “longer process.”

The Libya sit-down came as something of a surprise to many. “Few – particularly in Europe – saw this coming,” tweeted Libya researcher and journalist Mary Fitzgerald. With Hafter's LNA looking poised to close in on Tripoli, the situation in Libya had been left to fester and looked to be at a point of major escalation before the Russian and Turkish intervention.