The port of Sirte is now reportedly under the control of the Government of National Accord’s Bunyan Marsus coalition, after it managed to fully recapture the Suwawa area from ISIS on 1 July. Last week saw intensive fighting, with Misratan fighters making significant advances into the city, retaking the Zafaraan area and 700 residential district on 2 July. Meanwhile, airstrikes and heavy artillery continued to pound ISIS targets throughout the week.
Western countries continue to project support for the Government of National Accord (GNA), with a number of representatives travelling to Tripoli throughout last week to discuss immediate assistance. Ambassadors from the UK, France and Germany met with the Presidency Council (PC) and the GNA on 30 June. Italy’s foreign undersecretary Vincenzo Amendola was in Tripoli on 3 July for talks with the PC as well. His delegation signed a strategic agreement with the Libyan Civil Aviation authority to reestablish air navigation protocols, key towards normalizing Libyan aviation operations. Italy is one of the most active supporters of the GNA, helping to treat wounded Bunyan Marsus fighters, and providing medical supplies for Misrata, Tripoli and Benghazi. Italy is also said to be involved in back-channeling between the Misratans and Khalifa Haftar, to help mediate a political resolution.
Russia is also emerging as a player that may facilitate such a deal. Haftar travelled to Moscow on 27 June, followed immediately by GNA deputy prime minister Ahmed Metig on 29 June, an influential Misratan leader who is known for his opposition to Haftar. Both visits came upon direct invitation from Moscow, but the optics of the visits revealed the Russian position on the GNA. Haftar met with head of Russia’s National Security Council, Defense Minister, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss arms supplies and political support, while Metig was only met by their respective deputies. Officially supportive of the process, Russia is skeptical of the GNA, seeing it as a Western implant and insisting that the GNA must first receive official endorsement by the House of Representatives (HoR).
Gulf countries such as Oman and Saudi Arabia are also likely to play a key role in attempting to broker an agreement in the near future. UN Special Representative Martin Kobler met with HoR Chairman Ageelah Saleh, and a delegation of HoR members and eastern tribal leaders, in Muscat on 28 June. Although Kolber said the meetings were positive, no breakthroughs were made. Rumors indicate that Saudi Arabia is also looking to take the lead in mediating a resolution between Saleh and GNA Prime Minister Fayez Serraj after Ramadan. During his visit to Tripoli on 3 July, Kobler said that a new political stage will commence after Ramadan, whereby only a unified military structure from the three regions under the GNA will be able to request lifting of the arms embargo.