Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed the need for Libyaâ€™s warring parties to cease hostilities during a phone call with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the deputy supreme commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, which backsÂ Libyan warlord Khalifa Hifter.
â€œThe secretary and the crown prince discussed regional and bilateral issues of concern, including agreeing on the need for a cease-fire in Libya and return to UN-led political negotiations,â€ State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. â€œThe secretary also thanked the crownÂ prince for his strong partnership with the United States in combatting the global COVID-19 pandemic.â€
Why it matters:Â Â A leaked United Nations report confirmed that the UAE has run a covert air bridge to supply weapons to Hifterâ€™s forces in their assault on Tripoli, the seat of the UN-back government headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, Bloomberg reported in May.
Still, the UAE’s ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, said that the UAE supports a diplomatic solution to the conflict in aÂ podcast interview with Al-Monitor this week, calling for a â€œnationwide cease-fire.â€
â€œI donâ€™t believe that has held even though some parties have declared that they are sticking to the cease-fire,â€ Otaiba told Al-Monitor. â€œUnfortunately we have seen the flow of extremist mercenaries being flown in from outside.â€
Turkey has intervened with on behalf of Sarrajâ€™s government in Tripoli, going so far as to fly in Syrian rebels to fight alongside Libyaâ€™s UN-backed government. Otabia did not address the UAEâ€™s role in supplying arms to Hifter.
Whatâ€™s next:Â Â â€œWe think the next steps for the two sides, Khalifa Hifterâ€™s side and Sarrajâ€™s side, is to sit down in the five-plus-five talks and figure out a way forward,â€ said Otaiba. â€œI donâ€™t know if thatâ€™s going to happen imminently or not.â€
Know more:Â Â Listen to Al-Monitor’s president Andrew Parasilitiâ€™s full interview with Otaiba on his new podcast, â€œOn the Middle East.â€