Cautious relief among Tripoli residents following the ceasefire agreement


Residents of Tripoli, who have been exhausted by months of fighting at the gates of their city, hope that conditions will improve after the ceasefire agreement comes into effect on Sunday, but without hiding bitterness and mistrust.

The truce reached between the National Accord government in Tripoli and the forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who has influence in the Libyan East, is “welcome, of course,” says Maysa Barakat.

However, she asks, while she continues her work in the pharmacy where she works in the capital, “But what is its price? It took many lives for nothing.”

She added, “I do not think that whoever lost a son, a parent, a brother or a husband, will simply say: Well, it is over, so let’s move on to something else.”

Since April, south Tripoli has become the scene of battles between the two competing authorities, after pro-Haftar forces launched an offensive to take control of the capital, where about two million people live.

More than 280 people have been killed since that time, in addition to more than 2,000 fighters, according to the United Nations, which adds that approximately 150,000 Libyans have been displaced.

Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the UN-recognized government, called on Libyans on Monday night to “turn the page of the past.”

Al-Sarraj said, before heading to Moscow to sign the ceasefire agreement with Field Marshal Haftar, that “the political path that we will undertake will be a continuation of the great sacrifices that have been made in the way of the state we dream of.”

Haftar, whose attack on Tripoli failed to achieve his primary goal, was the first to confirm that his forces would respect the ceasefire that Moscow and Ankara called for. The OS followed suit.


Karima Al-Badri, who works at a bank in Tripoli, notes that “despite our realization that what started is nothing but the start of a long path that must be taken to reach a permanent agreement, it represents a new hope in the least.”

Likewise, many Tripoli residents fear an endless war and a “Syrian scenario.”

So, Karima says, the new ceasefire allows “a sigh of comfort.”

On Sunday, however, the first day of the armistice was marred by violence and mutual accusations of violating the agreement, highlighting the fragility of the ceasefire.

Fatima al-Taher, a forty-year-old teacher at the University of Tripoli, is afraid. “I have mixed feelings because I don’t think the ceasefire will continue,” she says.

Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, who controls the Libyan east and a large area in the south, wants to expand to the west, according to which, “terrorist militias” will extend its authority, in reference to local groups that support the Al-Wefaq government.

It also indicates that he wants to secure a “balanced” distribution of the oil-rich Libyan state’s revenues.

In this regard, Taher expects that “Haftar’s successor made many promises that he will not be allowed to renounce now. He will not stop until he obtains part of the authority.”

– “We are tired!”

For his part, Salem Al-Haddar was forced to leave his home when the fighting raged in Al-Sawani neighborhood in April.

“The truce, or the cease-fire, we have waited a lot for, and in fact it expresses the parties (Haftar and Al-Wefaq forces) reaching the stage of despair,” he said.

The father of five children continues, “We hope (…) a rapid political solution that will end the crisis and make us return to our homes in peace. We are tired!”

He believes that “a military solution will not add anything but the continuation of the bill of the dead, wounded and displaced residents of Tripoli and its environs.”

In anticipation of better days, Salem shares with a friend a two-storey house in the Al-Najila area south of the city of Janzour (15 km west of Tripoli), where hundreds of families have sought refuge from violence.

Like Salem Al-Haddar, in June, Mahmoud Al-Kahili, accompanied by his wife and their two-year-old children, left his home in the Ain Zara neighborhood of the southern suburb of Tripoli, and went to his brother in Tajoura (east of Tripoli).

He does not think that he will be able to return to his home soon. What he wants now is limited to seizing the opportunity of the fighting to restore “all the furniture and possessions, because I do not trust that the cease-fire will hold long.”

“Clashes will break out at any moment,” he says.

Mahmoud, like other Tripoliians, considers that the parties to the conflict agreed to the armistice for opportunistic purposes: “The war has stopped temporarily, but the ranks will be organized and they will return more violent than before.”


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