Haftar Forces Rule Out Dialogue to End Libya Conflict
Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar's forces have ruled out a U.N. call to return to the negotiating table, with his spokesman saying a military solution is the best way to resolve the conflict.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising in which its longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed. In April, Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive to conquer the capital, Tripoli.
"The battle (for Tripoli) is in its final phases," LNA spokesman General Ahmed al-Mesmari told a press conference in the United Arab Emirates, one of Haftar's foreign backers.
"When the guns speak, diplomacy goes silent. The time of going back to dialogue is over," he said. "The military solution is the best solution to spread security and reimpose the law."
Haftar's forces are fighting those of the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord led by Fayed al-Sarraj.
Nearly five months after launching the offensive, the strongman's forces remain locked in a stalemate against the GNA on Tripoli's southern outskirts.
Sarraj is backed by Turkey and Qatar, while Haftar enjoys varying levels of support from Egypt, the UAE, the United States, Russia and France.
The UN special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, warned Wednesday that without action by the Security Council, the conflict could escalate if outside patrons step up support for the warring sides.
"Many Libyans feel abandoned by part of the international community and exploited by others," he said.
The envoy said the country faced "two highly unpalatable scenarios" -- either protracted low-intensity conflict, or increased support for the warring sides that would trigger a sharp escalation.
"The idea that war should be given a chance and that a military solution is at all possible is quite simply a chimera," said Salame.