The German government has called a UN summit after Field Marshal Haftar advanced on Libya's capital. There are fears that Haftar intends to overthrow the UN-backed state and establish an authoritarian government.
Germany called an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday to address the threat of a new military conflict in Libya after Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar launched an operation to seize the capital, Tripoli, from the rival, UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
The news agency AFP reported that Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) had been stopped during the night by a militia loyal to the government.
"There can be no military solution in Libya," Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said as he announced the meeting during the government's regular press conference in Berlin on Friday.
The purpose of the meeting would be to avoid military escalation "and to further the political process," Seibert said. "We call on those in authority to stop military operations immediately and to distance themselves from further escalatory rhetoric."
The meeting was called in consultation with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is traveling to Libya on Friday along with UN Special Representative Ghassan Salame, where he will meet Haftar.
EU and France
In response to Haftar's military push, the US, France, Italy, the UK and the United Arab Emirates issued a joint statement calling for restraint and an end to military posturing. "Threats of military action would only have the effect of propelling Libya back into chaos," the countries warned.
But this raised awkward questions, not least because the UAE and France have both previously supported Haftar. France's position could well be difficult if the European Union is to hold a common line on the situation.
That difficulty was raised by Omid Nouripour, the German Greens' foreign policy spokesman. After roundly condemning Haftar's intervention as a "provocation" that risked a "deadly civil war," Nouripour demanded that the UN and EU not allow themselves to be "blackmailed by the field marshal." He also warned that Haftar intends to establish an authoritarian government similar to the one in Egypt.