Three days ahead of the Berlin 2 conference: Misrata-Sirte Coastal road finally reopened – but for how long?
By Sami Zaptia.
London, 21 June 2021:
Three days before the start of the Berlin 2 conference on Libya, the Misrata-Sirte Coastal Road was reopened yesterday. Its reopening was one of the conditions of the 23 October 2020 ceasefire agreement between Khalifa Hafter and the Tripoli forces.
Prime Minister Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba turned up at the last of soil bank (at Buerat Al-Hassoun) blocking the coastal road and symbolically boarded the earth mover clearing the soil off the road.
Commenting on his Twitter account he said
‘‘Today we will turn a page from the suffering of the Libyan people, take a new step in building, stability and unity. Salute to all the sincere efforts whose results we are living today by opening the coastal road, together to build and work for the development and prosperity of the country’’.
According to the Libyan government the frontline area will now be under the supervision and security of the security forces assigned by the 5 + 5 Joint Military Committee (JMC).
In his speech in front of the last soil bank Aldabaiba explained that the reopening of the coastal road came after a difficult stage during which Libyans suffered from painful events and grave experiences, and the hardships of traveling through alternative routes in order for the one people to communicate. He pointed out that the national unity government was born from the womb of this suffering, and it falls upon it the responsibility to turn the page of the past and open a new page of hope and enthusiasm for life.
He stressed that the spectre of secession is over after opening the road and linking the east of the country to the west, considering the road reopening an important historical event in the modern history of Libya.
Aldabaiba called on Libyans to renounce division, forget grudges, and move towards construction in order to advance the country and its stability. He said Libya deserves us to distance itself from the spectre of wars and destruction and stand together to build a bright future in Libya for all and by everyone.
Conditional and temporary reopening?
However, a leaked letter from the Sirte-Jufra Operations Room Commander, Ibrahim Bait Al-Mal, the government aligned forces that control the area sent to the Presidency Council in their role as Supreme Commander of Armed Forces, revealed that the reopening was conditional and temporary – probably to coincide with the Berlin 2 conference. The conditions were:
- The pro-Tripoli Forces would withdraw 5km from the coastal road in each direction.
- The reopening would be for 15 days only to enable 5+5 JMC to implement the other conditions in the October ceasefire agreement – the withdrawal of foreign forces outside the area’s boundaries.
- Release of POWs.
- The coastal road will be opened from 6am to 6pm.
- Only the tarmacked road will be reopened but not the subsidiary untarmacked tracks.
- They await Hafter’s forces withdrawing from the boundaries of the area and reopening the road in both directions.
- Stop military movements and reinforcement.