How do I meet a military man - Dialogue with the Islamic World

Libyan opponents meet - hope for a unification of the country


At a symbolic meeting, the two greatest opponents in the Libyan civil war spoke to each other personally for the first time in more than a year. By Nehal el-Sherif and Benno Schwinghammer

Prime Minister Fajis al-Sarradsch and General Khalifa Haftar, who is influential in eastern Libya, met in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, a spokesman for the internationally recognized government in Libyan Tripoli told the German press agency. "The aim of the meeting is to find a solution to the country's political and economic crisis," said Hassan al-Huni.

The conversation can be seen as a sign of a rapprochement between the conflicting parties in the broken state in North Africa. According to the parliamentarian Abu Bakr Beira from the House of Representatives in Tobruk, east Libya, which is allied with Haftar, Al-Sarradsch and the general should discuss changes to a 2015 political agreement.

This treaty, which came about through the mediation of the United Nations, was used by Al-Sarradsch's government to replace two previously competing leaderships in the west and east of the country. A year and a half later, Al-Sarradsch's so-called unity government was unable to prevail in Libya.

With his government, three leaderships now claim power in the country. Even in the capital Tripoli, where the internationally recognized government sits, Al-Sarradsch is under pressure. Haftar, on the other hand, a proven opponent of Islamists, was able to expand his influence as a strong military man in the east of the country. Contrary to the unity government's original plan to overturn Haftar, an influential role for him is no longer ruled out in the future.

Al-Sarradsch and Haftar met for indirect talks in Cairo in February. There they agreed to set up a committee to revise the 2015 agreement and to hold parliamentary and presidential elections within a year. In view of the complexity of the Libyan conflict and the sluggish negotiations in the past, such agreements are viewed with skepticism.

The unification of the deeply divided country, in which hundreds of militias operate undisturbed, is considered to be the key to solving the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. Every year tens of thousands of people set sail from the Libyan coast in boats heading for Europe. (dpa)

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