5-12 September: Italian Interior Minister is latest Western politician to visit Libya as Salame expresses frustration over international competition on Libya

Sep 13, 2017 | International actors

On 5 September, Italy’s Interior Minister Marco Minitti visited Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi just a day after the French FM Jean-Yves Le Drian completed his tour of Libya. This was Minitti’s first meeting with Haftar and he is the most senior Italian official to meet with him to date. Italy has not previously had a strong relationship with Haftar, allying more closely with the Government of National Accord (GNA) and its allies in Tripoli and Misrata. No details were released about what was discussed during this meeting.

Last week, the French delegation including French ambassador to Libya Brigitte Curmi, met with GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and High Council of State (HCS) head Abdurrahman al-Swehli in Tripoli. In Misrata, they met with the city’s mayor, Mohamed Eshtewi, as well as House of Representatives (HoR) members and al-Bunyan al-Marsus commanders, the content of these meetings not clear. Le Drian met with Haftar in Benghazi and HoR president Ageelah Saleh in Tobruq. The aim of the visit was to garner support for the Serraj- Haftar agreement reached in Paris earlier this summer.

The new UNSMIL chief Ghassan Salamé is said to be frustrated by the succession of independent bilateral attempts to broker a solution to Libya’s crises, particularly ahead of the UN General Assembly’s meeting on Libya on 20 September. On September 7, Salamé told Italian media that, “There are six or seven different operations in front of Libyans’ eyes. Too many cooks spoil the broth.” It is reported that he intends to repeat this sentiment at the conference this week and that he himself intends to unveil fresh proposals in New York in the coming days.

On 14 September, UN Envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salamé, will reportedly address a conference in London convened by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and attended by the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. The conference follows a run of peace initiatives between varying subsets of Libyan factions in recent months fascilitated by international actors. The London initiative will focus on a plan to restart political talks including making changes to the Skhirat Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed in December 2015 that has so far failed to unite Libya’s myriad factions.