The East African - - OUTLOOK -

neigh­bours and re­gional and Western pow­ers.

“To­day’s meet­ing was in­clu­sive,” said Dorothée Sch­mid, who leads the Mid­dle East and North Africa sec­tion of the French In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions. “France is back­ing the UN process, and that is progress,” she said, not­ing that when Macron be­gan his ef­fort on Libya last year, he was not work­ing with other coun­tries and or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Law­less deserts

A fac­tion from Mis­rata in western Libya de­clined an in­vi­ta­tion to the Paris meet­ing, say­ing it was not be­ing treated in the same way as other del­e­ga­tions.

France and other Euro­pean coun­tries want to sta­bilise Libya to stem the flow of mi­grants leav­ing Libya’s shores for Europe. Libyan sea­ports near Tripoli are just 288 Km from the Italian is­land of Lampe­dusa. While the flow of mi­grants has slowed over the past cou­ple of years, thou­sands still make it to Europe through danger­ous smug­gling net­works.

The US has taken a back­seat role in Libya’s po­lit­i­cal process in re­cent years, con­cen­trat­ing in­stead on coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tions against mil­i­tants from the Is­lamic State and other ex­trem­ist groups.

In 2016, the US con­ducted nearly 500 airstrikes on the coastal city of Sirte as part of a Libyan­led mil­i­tary oper­a­tion that ousted the Is­lamic State from the city.

Un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, the US has car­ried out at least nine airstrikes on tar­gets in the coun­try’s law­less south­ern deserts.

Prime Min­is­ter Fayez al­sar­raj of the Un-backed unity gov­ern­ment in Tripoli; Gen. Khal­ifa Hifter, whose forces con­trol much of the coun­try’s east; Khalid Mishri, the newly elected head of the High Coun­cil of State, which is an ad­vi­sory body to the Gov­ern­ment of Na­tional Ac­cord led by Sar­raj; and Aguila Saleh Issa, the Speaker of the To­bruk-based House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by De­clan Walsh

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