21 – 27 Mar: Cairo military discussions conclude, Zintan forces take control of coastal road and PC sends peace delegation to Sebha

Mar 27, 2018 | Libyan actors

On 20 March, the sixth round of discussions aimed at unifying Libya’s military concluded in Cairo.  The discussions, mediated by Egypt, ended with no formal declaration, resolutions or agreements. On the same day, however, the Libyan military officers attending released a statement indicating that a new round of discussions would occur at the soonest possible opportunity.

While many militia leaders have participated in the discussions, it has also seen several groups excluded or openly reject the unification. On 20 March, the High Council of State (HCS) Chief of Defence and Security Backup Commission, Belqasim Deberz, stated that the HCS rejected the Cairo meetings. Deberz described the meetings as illegal and accused Egypt of being a partisan actor in Libya. On 18 March, the deputy commander of the Sirte Security Operations Room stated that they reject Haftar as the head of the army.

Last week Ibrahim Baytelmal, the spokesperson for the Misrata Military Council, rejected Haftar’s participation and called for military leaders to hold discussions on Libyan soil.. The Head of the Sabratha Military Council, al-Taher al-Gharabli, also rejected the Cairo meeting and its premise.

On 19 March, Zintan Special Forces led by Emad Trabilsi took control of the strategic 27km checkpoint on the main Tripoli-Zawiyya coastal road from the Jafara Security Directorate.  Locals are said to have responded positively to the takeover. On 20 March, several pro-Government of National Accord (GNA) militias released statements condemning the activity. On 22 March, it was reported that Trabilsi had mobilized his forces through to the area close to the International Airport, south of Tripoli.

On 23 March, as a part of the Libyan National Army’s ‘law enforcement’ operation in southern Libya the Tarik Ben Zeyad brigade, under the command of Sulieman al-Wahidi Al-Si’aiti, reached Tamenhint airbase, 34 km south of Sebha, and additional troops have been sent to bolster those already positioned at Brak al-Shatti airbase.

On 21 March, a so-called “Ceasefire Committee” created by the GNA’s Presidential Council arrived in Sebha to negotiate peace through humanitarian channels between the Awlad Sulieman and Tebu tribes in the area. As yet the committee has not been able to broker any ceasefire and fighting continues.