Is the EU still a power broker in the Libyan conflict?

Policy Brief:

The past five years have offered Libyans many democratic challenges. With the continued conflict between the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) under the leadership of Libyan General Khalifa Haftar and Prime Minister Fayez Al Serraj, and the implication of international actors moved by various interests in the region, the situation in Libya is increasingly fragile. The UN-mediated 2015 political deal has been severely hindered, and the country is facing a number of challenges regarding its political stability, economic development and security.

On Europe's doorstep, the conflict in Libya is not only escalating sharply, but is also becoming internationalized. In recent months, Libyan General Khalifa Haftar has received significant reinforcement and advanced weaponry from Russia, which has altered the dynamics of battle and enabled General Khalifa Haftar to make gains into Tripoli. Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al Serraj has become increasingly desperate as he faces the Libyan strongman’s army, which is backed by the UAE, Egypt, Russia, and several EU Member States, including France. 

Following the signing of a security pact with Ankara last November, Serraj’s government issued a call for assistance from Turkish forces. Turkey subsequently announced the sending of troops and visited regional stakeholders such as Algeria, seeking to develop a broader alliance. This month, President Erdogan also met with President Vladimir Putin to discuss developments in Libya, in what increasingly looks like an attempt by the pair to become primary power brokers in the conflict.

To this, the European Union had rapidly responded to the Libyan uprising in 2011 and still continues to support democratic transition, socioeconomic integration, health services delivery and NGOs capacity building. However, Turkey and Russia have a growing role in Libya and intend to play a key role in any potential negotiations.

Where does the EU stand in this equation, considering European Council President Charles Michel’s promise that the EU would step up efforts to deescalate tensions? Can the EU still be considered as the major power broker in the conflict?

To see the event Gallery: 
Photos and Video

Date: 03 February 2020

Time: 17:00 - 20:00

Our Moderator Richard Colebourn introducing the discussion and the panalists.


Our speaker Sami Hamdi:

The EU cannot be talked about as a block, which is why the Berlin summit failed so badley.

When he went to the Berlin summit, Serraj was isolated with only the support of Turkey and Qatar.


The EU is talking about a political solution while Libya is being bombarded


The #EU can be a #powerbroker ... but must ask itself some blunt questions .


History shows that the likely action the EU will take if Sarraj falls is to recognise Haftar .


Libya is about to become a major security threat.


Brexit might just be the beginning. The EU has no teeth.


Our speaker Dr Behar Sadriu: Patterns of competition are important if we want to see how things will develop in Libya.

The EU’s #Balkan policy is not an isolated issue.”

Turkey’s influence is increasing in Europe.

On the face of it, there is economic growth "in the Balkans". But how much does this translate into better lives for the people?.”

We shouldn’t make any mistake that the EU’s failure lies in the fact that it has failed to deliver on its promise of economic growth in the Balkans.”

Corruption and economic stagnation are important to consider when talking about the Balkans. Poor parts of the region are still shut off from the EU.”

Our panelist Dr Taner Dogan: Turkey seems to be a game changer in the Libyan conflict, but is facing a substantial economic crisis. 

There is an internal struggle within the muslim elite in Turkey .”

250,000 people migrated to western capitals in 2018. These are mainly educated people

Conventional media covered Turkey’s moves in Libya very positively. On digital media, we are witnessing more opposing voices.

Despite human #rights and freedom of speech issues in Turkey, #Istanbul is becoming the hub of international media outlets.

Turkey can be an ally for Germany, and also for Europe in Libya.

Q & A session Reacting to our speakers’ interventions: During tonight's discussion Sami Hamdi argued that: "France, Italy, the UAE and others are strong in Libya because Libyans cannot agree on a narrative". Do you agree ?


Sami Hamdi

Sami Hamdi is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Interest. An experienced geopolitical risk consultant, Sami advises blue-chip clients and global entities around the world on highly volatile business environments in the Middle East as well as the geopolitical dynamics.
Sami is a regular commentator on Aljazeera, TRT World, CGTN and RT and other media outlets.

Dr Behar Sadriu

Teaching Fellow at the Department of Political Science at University College London (UCL) and at the department  of Politics and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)

Dr Taner Dogan

Assistant Professor of Media and Political Communication at Ibn Haldun University (Istanbul) and a former Visiting Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Also the former director at TRT World Academy


Richard Colebourn

Europe Bureaux Editor 

BBC News Middle East Bureaux Chief  and oversees reporters, producers and camera crew  in offices across the region.


​Middle East Dialogue Centre

Rue Blanche 1, 1000, Brussels



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