The Interview

Libya: 'Faces a real risk of partition'


In an interview with FRANCE 24, Wolfram Lacher, a senior associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, warned of a "real risk" of partition in Libya. He said this could happen either through an escalation of the fighting or because a "frozen conflict" scenario would take hold.


Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Berlin, Lacher said that for the first time, there was a risk that the fighting in Libya could no longer be waged through proxies but would be done openly between foreign powers. He said that the world should "take seriously" the threat by Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to intervene if government-backed forces move towards the strategic town of Sirte. Both Egypt and Turkey were "playing a game of chicken" that could well end up in a direct confrontation between them, said Lacher, who is the author of a recent book entitled "Libya's Fragmentation: Structure and Process in Violent Conflict".

Lacher expressed pessimism about the revival of a UN-led negotiation process, noting that Turkey and Russia were angling for a deal between them to control Libya while Egypt, the UAE, the US and France were opposing such a scheme.

He also criticised France's support for General Khalifa Haftar, stressing that he could not understand why Paris kept on backing him despite his shortcomings and his failure to seize the capital, Tripoli. He added that France's stark denunciation of Turkey’s role in Libya was misguided.

He noted that while Turkey had openly supported Fayez al-Sarraj, both the UAE and Russia had been sending more weaponry to Haftar, including Russian fighter jets that could be used in the near future. He estimated that the only solution for Haftar to retain some influence was to maintain control of Libya's east in a "frozen conflict" scenario.   

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