Intel: Pompeo discusses Libya truce with Abu Dhabi's crown prince

al-monitor US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 19, 2019. Photo by Mandel Ngan/REUTERS.

Jun 5, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed the need for Libya’s warring parties to cease hostilities during a phone call with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the deputy supreme commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, which backs Libyan warlord Khalifa Hifter.

“The secretary and the crown prince discussed regional and bilateral issues of concern, including agreeing on the need for a cease-fire in Libya and return to UN-led political negotiations,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. “The secretary also thanked the crown prince for his strong partnership with the United States in combatting the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

Why it matters:  A leaked United Nations report confirmed that the UAE has run a covert air bridge to supply weapons to Hifter’s forces in their assault on Tripoli, the seat of the UN-back government headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, Bloomberg reported in May.

Still, the UAE's ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, said that the UAE supports a diplomatic solution to the conflict in a podcast interview with Al-Monitor this week, calling for a “nationwide cease-fire.”

“I don’t believe that has held even though some parties have declared that they are sticking to the cease-fire,” Otaiba told Al-Monitor. “Unfortunately we have seen the flow of extremist mercenaries being flown in from outside.”

Turkey has intervened with on behalf of Sarraj’s government in Tripoli, going so far as to fly in Syrian rebels to fight alongside Libya’s UN-backed government. Otabia did not address the UAE’s role in supplying arms to Hifter.

What’s next:  “We think the next steps for the two sides, Khalifa Hifter’s side and Sarraj’s side, is to sit down in the five-plus-five talks and figure out a way forward,” said Otaiba. “I don’t know if that’s going to happen imminently or not.”

Know more:  Listen to Al-Monitor's president Andrew Parasiliti’s full interview with Otaiba on his new podcast, “On the Middle East.”

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