World leaders will gather in Berlin on Sunday for a fresh push for peace in Libya.
The presidents of Russia, Turkey and France are due for talks under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), which wants to get foreign powers wielding influence in the region to stop interfering in the war, through the provision of weapons, troops or financing.
Leaders of both warring factions – strongman Khalifa Haftar and the head of Tripoli's UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj – are also expected at the first such gathering since 2018.
Police cars are sparked close to the Chancellery, the host of the Libya summit in Berlin, Germany, January 18, 2020. /Reuters Photo
The UN hopes all sides will sign up to a plan to refrain from interference, and commit to a truce that leads to a lasting end to hostilities, according to a draft of a final communique.
Hours ahead of the meet, pro-Haftar forces upped the ante by blocking oil exports at the war-ravaged country's key ports, crippling the main source of income in a protest against Turkey's decision to send troops to shore up Sarraj's Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
Tribesmen in areas controlled by Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) on Friday stormed the eastern Zueitina port and announced the closure of all terminals under LNA control.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Republic of the Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso at the beginning of the Libya summit in Berlin, Germany, January 19, 2020. /Reuters Photo
A draft of the final communique of the Berlin summit on Sunday recognized Tripoli-based state oil company NOC as the sole legitimate entity allowed to sell Libyan oil, which will be discussed at the summit.
The summit also called for all parties to refrain from hostilities against oil facilities, said the draft.
On the eve of the Berlin talks, Turkey's Erdogan warned Europe to stand united behind Sarraj's government, as Tripoli's fall could leave "fertile ground" for jihadist groups like the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda "to get back on their feet".
Libyan protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against the Turkish parliament's decision to send Turkish forces to Libya, in Benghazi, Libya, January 3, 2020. /Reuters Photo
Accusing France in particular of siding with Haftar, Erdogan said leaving Libya to the commander would be a "mistake of historic proportions."
France has denied it was backing Haftar.
Erdogan has also accused Russia of sending in mercenaries to help Haftar.
The International Crisis Group's Libya expert Claudia Gazzini said the Berlin conference "could be a modest step forward" on the path to peace.
GNA, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj and formed in 2016 after a UN-sponsored agreement, is opposed by an eastern administration championed by military strongman Haftar.
The latter takes his legitimacy from a parliament elected in 2014 that took refuge in eastern Libya after a western militia coalition seized control of the capital.
Apart from Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, France, and Russia have, at the least, provided diplomatic support to Haftar, even if Moscow denies having funded Russian mercenaries on the ground.