Libya’s Fayez al-Sarraj and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meeting in Istanbul on Sunday. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Plans for a durable Libyan ceasefire are to be endorsed by diplomats from 15 countries on Monday, but the value of the commitments made in the virtual meeting are belied by signs that deepening involvement in the country by rival external powers including Russia and Turkey could complicate efforts to form an interim government of national unity.
The Libya conflict has to be seen as not only a long-running power struggle in the country itself but also part of a wider geopolitical dispute in which Turkey’s assertive foreign policy – ranging from the eastern Mediterranean to Azerbaijan – is an increasing factor.
Before the diplomats’ meeting, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, appeared to double down on his military and political commitment to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), making the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Libya less likely. At the same time, Russian-backed mercenaries in the Wagner group supporting rival forces in the east of the country have moved to strengthen their military positions.