Will Macron secure peace in Libya?

French President Emmanuel Macron has helped broker a ceasefire between Libya's transitional government and its main rival in the country's civil war. The country has been in chaos since the fall of Colonel Gaddafi in 2011, and uniting it once more is seen as a key factor in solving the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean region. Commentators are nevertheless sceptical that Macron's initiative will bring real results.

Open/close all quotes
De Telegraaf (NL) /

No sign of real compromise

Two of the warring parties, represented by the head of the UN-backed interim government Fayez al-Sarraj and the military leader Khalif Haftar, have agreed to call a ceasefire but it won't make any difference to the situation, De Telegraaf fears:

“It is more than doubtful that both parties will be willing to give up their little kingdoms. Moreover, al-Sarraj has little influence with the militias. … General Haftar controls large swathes of the country and has threatened to take over Tripoli before the end of the year. The 'new Gaddafi' is not the type to share power. … What's more, now he must present today's agreement to the largely insignificant parliament in Tobruk in the east of the country, while a third government - in Tripoli - was completely excluded from the negotiations. The 'historic agreement' in Paris was for the most part just a nice photocall for Macron.”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

Peace-making without risks

Macron is setting about cleaning up the mess his pre-predecessor left, Diário de Notícias notes:

“The irony is that right now Macron is just trying to repair what former president Nicolas Sarkozy [with his military coup against the Gaddafi regime] ruined: Libya's unity, its stability as a state. … By bringing together the two rivalling Libyan politicians, the internationally recognised Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the rebel commander Khalifa Haftar, Macron isn't taking any major risks, because the situation in Libya can't get much worse anyway. … And if peace should triumph in the end, Macron will be able to put a few feathers in his cap.”

Ouest France (FR) /

Rome must be included in negotiations

Macron committed a serious mistake by not involving Italy in the negotiations, Ouest France believes:

“Without Italy's cooperation there is the risk that the promises made by Fayez al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar - as praiseworthy as they may be on paper - will disappear in Libya's shifting sands. A security challenge on Europe's doorstep, the Libyan crisis is too explosive to risk causing new rifts between Europeans. The migration crisis is too huge to be solved by a few patrols in the department of Alpes-Maritimes [on the French-Italian border]. Unless, that is, the goal is to help the far right - or even Berlusconi's resurrection - in the next Italian elections.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Deal mainly serves French president's interests

France's president knows how to place himself centre-stage, Il Sole 24 Ore observes:

“It's clear that the meeting is mainly in Macron's interests. … It is aimed at enhancing the president's prestige in his role as the preferred dialogue partner for a large part of North Africa and the Sahel zone, where Paris has important military, economic and financial interests. … The roadmap to a ceasefire, the election in 2018 and the campaign against trading in migrants - everything that was agreed on yesterday is only a 'working paper', not an agreement, as the French president himself conceded. … In Libya there are no simple solutions that one can boast about. Yet Macron still managed to come up with words that go down well with the public. He talked of a 'victory of peace and a historical moment.'”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Paris and Rome serious on Libya

The support from Paris and Rome will bring a new dynamic to the deadlock in Libya, La Vanguardia hopes:

“The meeting ended with an agreement on a ceasefire that must be taken with a pinch of salt and that will only gain credibility once it is put into practice. The same can be said of the agreement to hold elections 'as soon as possible', a vague formulation that doesn't incite optimism. Nonetheless, things are moving in Libya. … A very difficult task awaits UN negotiator Ghassan Salamé. But compared with his predecessors he has one advantage: the resolute support of France and Italy, which for various reasons consider it a top priority to calm the situation in Libya before the chaos becomes irreversible.”