As embattled parties in Tripoli remain entrenched in a military stalemate, both sides remain uncompromising in their resolve and unwilling to settle for a ceasefire.
Rabat – The Libyan people have already had to bury several hundred of their countrymen since conflict flared up in the country’s northwestern region earlier this year in April. Meanwhile, hospitals are flooded with thousands of the injured, caught in the middle of routine shelling and firefights in the area.
Ambulances carrying injured civilians and detention camps filled with refugees have become targets for attack as the country descends towards civil war, with the international community’s attempts at a peaceful resolution being rejected by both sides of the conflict.
The men, women and children trapped within the Libyan capital of Tripoli continue to live under siege as neither side of the conflict is willing to work towards a ceasefire, or to make any attempts at ending the bloodshed to preserve the lives of their neighbors.
While meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, the turncoat military commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, expunged any possibility for hostilities to end with a peaceful ceasefire.
“When the question of the ceasefire was put on the table, Haftar’s reaction to this was to ask: ‘negotiate with whom for a ceasefire today’,” a French presidential official said.
Haftar has long styled the military campaign as a crusade against extremist militants within the Libyan government, and has ruled out the idea of a ceasefire until Tripoli is liberated from militants that had “infested” the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
Meanwhile, Fayez al-Sarraj, the prime minister of the GNA, has also refused to consider a ceasefire until Haftar’s forces have retreated from Tripoli and ended the offensive in northwestern Libya.
“The request for a ceasefire in Tripoli must be accompanied by the return of those who have attacked to where they came from,” al-Sarraj said to a group of Libyan ambassadors on Thursday.
Al-Sarraj also cast doubt upon the strength and legitimacy of Haftar’s forces, arguing that the GNA were defending against the very militants Haftar claims to be combating.
“What is being defined as an army, led by Haftar, is actually a motley mix of religious, tribal, and regional groups, and of criminal militias,” Sarraj said. “Haftar believed that entering Tripoli was going to be a walk in the park, thanks to the military support received, but it’s a dream he will never reach.”
Haftar’s forces remain entrenched in Tripoli’s southern suburbs by loyalist militants aligned with the GNA, and this stalemate will seemingly perpetuate further bloodshed until a resolution is reached.
An irreconcilable stalemate
With both sides refusing to negotiate for peace, the innocents caught in the crossfire have been deprived of any opportunity to put an end to the harrowing conditions within the capital.
Haftar has maintained his unwillingness to negotiate with what he perceives as a government controlled by terrorist militias and so long as negotiations are off the table, the siege of Tripoli will continue.
“[Haftar] considers that the GNA is completely infested by militias and it is not for him to negotiate with representatives of these militias,” the French official said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the government of al-Sarraj has no intentions of collaborating with the LNA until Haftar has pulled his forces back from Tripoli and retreated to their pre-offensive territory, even as his citizens are subjected to daily shelling and nightmarish violence.
While forces under Haftar and al-Sarraj remain entrenched in a desperate stalemate at the banks of Tripoli, the two leaders continue to be uncompromising in their resolve and unwilling to be dissuaded by rising casualties in the city.
Meanwhile, the international community’s fears of an impending full-scale civil war have become reinforced as an escalation in the conflict looms over the horizon with each day that a ceasefire is not signed.