Libya's warring factions have agreed on a roadmap to form a unity government after two days of U.N.-brokered talks in Geneva, Switzerland. The U.N. talks are aimed at forming a unity government, ceasing hostilities and putting the country's transition to democracy back on track. Libya is of major concern for Western countries, as the country is primarily viewed as a major source of oil export. Secondly, central power in Libya has to be restored in order to provide extensive control over militias linked with al-Qaeda, a major security threat for Europe. The U.N. Security Council also welcomed the talks but warned the North African state that the U.N. may have to consider sanctions against anyone undermining the country's stability.
The U.N. special envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, had warned at the start of the talks that this was a last-ditch effort to prevent all-out chaos. "The participants agreed after extensive deliberation on an agenda that includes reaching a political agreement to form a consensual national unity government and the necessary security arrangements to end the fighting," a U.N. statement said.
However, Tripoli-based forces complained this week that the process had been rushed and said they would vote on Sunday whether or not to go to Geneva.
Libya has suffered from instability and a lack of central power. Successive Libyan governments have been struggling to impose authority and law and order over brigades of former rebels and militias that refuse to disarm. Rival brigades of former rebels and their political allies have endangered the country's integrity. The government, parliament and nascent armed forces have been trying to bring stability to the country to prevent any potential threat of a coup d'état. However, a sense of chaos prevails in the country, while rebel militias have insisted that the fragile national government has lost its legitimacy. Various actors have come to the fore, including the fragile central government, the two main armed militias, Zintanis and Misratans and the Libyan National Army, led by renegade General Khalifa Haftar. None of the actors have been strong enough to put an end to the ongoing turmoil.
Another important thing to note is that Libya has become a hotbed of militant insurgency, which poses a significant threat to North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, which lies on Libya's doorstep. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, which has seized large areas in Iraq and Syria, is also thought to have gained a foothold in eastern Libya. Those militias are led by the Ansar al-Sharia group, blacklisted by the United Nations for its links to al-Qaeda. The head of Libya's internationally recognized government has pleaded for more international help in combating militias by lifting an arms embargo imposed by the U.N. Security Council in 2011.
"In Libya, the government and armed forces are battling these groups alone, without any support from the international community," Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni told the AFP news agency in an interview just before the Geneva talks.