Libyan National Army
© Reuters / Esam Omran Al-Fetori
FILE PHOTO: Libyan National Army (LNA) members commanded by Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi
The Berlin peace summit shows that Russia and Turkey still have an important role to play as they are among the few countries that can really influence the situation in Libya, Yusuf Erim, a Turkish foreign policy expert, said.

The peace conference on Libya convened in Berlin succeeded in bringing together a host of world leaders to try and find a way out of the civil war plaguing the war-ravaged land for years, Erim told RT. However, it also clearly showed that very few nations can really move the Libyan peace process forward, as most lack a strategy and the will to translate words into action.

"We saw a lot of good intentions but a lack of ability to implement them on the ground, so a big role is still left for Turkey and Russia," the editor-at-large at Turkish state international news broadcaster TRT World said. The conference showed that European leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have no "clear roadmap" they could use to break the deadlock, he argued.

The conference only made the role of Russia and Turkey, which already acted as "major brokers" on the ground before the talks in Berlin, even more "evident," Erim believes.

"The will [of Russia and Turkey] to bring about a political solution will be a key for today's conference to have any meaning in the future."

Even though the Berlin conference participants agreed on a set of "detailed proposals" on virtually every aspect of crisis resolution, there is still a long way to go for lasting peace in Libya, partly because the two major warring parties are still struggling to reconcile the differences, which prevent them from even sitting down together at the negotiating table.

"[Fayez] al-Sarraj [PM of the UN-backed Government of National Accord] and [Khalifa] Haftar [commander of the Libyan National Army] were not in the same room [in Berlin], so we see that they are still very distant from each other," Erim said.

Macron
© Reuters / Libyan National Army
French President Emmanuel Macron meets Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar before the start of the Libya summit in Berlin, Germany, January 19, 2020.
The fact that Haftar and al-Sarraj are still not ready to meet face-to-face is not exactly surprising, but it does not instill optimism either, Ayo Johnson, founder of Viewpoint Africa, told RT, noting that there is too much at stake for both to leave things to chance.

"They are bitter enemies, there is a lot at stake - the world's largest oil and gas reserves on the African continent besides Libya being a pivotal junction for many migrants to reach Europe. "

This mutual animosity could spell trouble for the shaky ceasefire the two sides joined in the night of January 12, and which has already been marred by reports of repeated violations.

Mark Almond, the director of Crisis Research Institute, told RT that he believes the main problem with the ceasefire is that there is no enforcement mechanism to make the rival forces, who don't trust each other in the least, hold up their end of the bargain. In addition, while the ceasefire "could possibly be in the interest of both sides," it would be quite a challenge to get "various cohorts" embroiled in the civil on war to jump on board, he said.

Arguing that a peacekeeping force might be necessary to guarantee the truce, Almond said that hardly any country seems to be willing to take such a risk.

"I don't see anybody wanting to send troops to Libya, wanting to put their soldiers at risk of being shot at on the ground."

Deploying a peacekeeping force to Libya might indeed be a solution, according to Erim, who said that such a contingent "would definitely" be required to make sure a "a buffer zone between the two sides," is maintained.

Yet, deploying troops to Libya is an option that the European nations are most likely to forgo, Erim believes.

"It does not look like the EU has enough risk appetite to send troops on the ground"

Here, it once again falls to Moscow and Ankara to convince the warring parties to uphold the ceasefire, Erim said, noting that Italy has expressed its desire to "maintain a military presence on the ground."

Moscow and Ankara already have a positive experience of taking effective de-confliction measures in a situation when all previous talks failed. That is what happened in Syria when Russia, Turkey and Iran "got together to form the Astana group" and then "took some very meaningful decisions on the ground," Erim explained, suggesting the trio of Russia, Turkey and Italy can replicate this success.

"I see no reason why the same successful formula cannot be implemented for Libya with Turkey, Russia and Italy."