Fayez Sarraj, the head of the Libya's internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), attacked foreign powers for backing General Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the Benghazi-based Libyan National Army (LNA), whom he described as a "war criminal."
The Libyan conflict has drawn in a range of regional and international actors who are all competing for influence. While Libya was dragged into chaos after the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi, who ruled Libya with an iron fist for 42 years until the Feb. 17 revolution in 2011, Haftar, a former Gadhafi officer, has been trying to destroy the Tripoli-based, internationally recognized GNA for months. Haftar's militia launched an offensive in April against the Tripoli-based government, seeking to capture Tripoli from the GNA but has so far been unsuccessful. Since April, fighting has killed at least 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, while some 120,000 others have been displaced, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
"It is regrettable that other countries continue to interfere" in Libya, he said at the U.N. General Assembly, naming the United Arab Emirates (UAE), France and Egypt. Sarraj has ruled out peace talks with Haftar, saying he was "not a partner for peace." He also derided Haftar and his supporters as "coup plotters" and blamed them for Libya's continued instability. Haftar enjoys varying levels of support from Egypt, the UAE and France. In July, France denied providing missiles to forces loyal to Haftar in Libya's east and breaching a U.N. arms embargo, saying French forces operating in the war-torn country had lost track of them after they were judged to be defective. French special forces and members of its DGSE intelligence service are known to be operating in Libya.
Libya was one of the most-discussed issues at the U.N. General Assembly this week. Since the country has become the power projection stage for several regional and international actors, there was a heated exchange of accusations. Egypt, which has been acting like a mouthpiece for the UAE, accused other countries of financing militias. Qatar, on the other hand, claimed that the UAE-backed forces in Libya were committing war crimes.
Libya faces a series of problems, including migration, a worsening humanitarian situation and internal conflict. The disputes among international actors and the indifference of many involved powers have only deepened the problems. Attempts to find a solution, with the help of certain international powers, have so far remained futile. On the contrary, the division among the country's rival factions has widened. Sarraj, who has been leading a third government in the country but is allied with Tripoli, blamed Western governments for their inaction.