ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates, which had previously backed Libya's eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar, has pledged support for the new unity government in Tripoli formed after UN-sponsored peace talks. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan received Libya's interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah in the UAE capital late Wednesday.

He "renewed his support for the new executive authority in Libya and their endeavors to establish peace and stability," the official WAM news agency reported yesterday. Sheikh Mohammed, the UAE's de facto leader, tweeted early Thursday that it had been "an honor" to meet with Dbeibah. "Libya will overcome its challenges and we stand at the side of the Libyan people at this critical moment," he said. "The new road map will hopefully lead to stability and unity."

The UAE said in January it was ready to work closely with US President Joe Biden's administration for a peaceful solution to the Libyan conflict. The statement followed a virtual Security Council meeting on Libya, during which the United States called on "all external parties, to include Russia, Turkey and the UAE, to respect Libyan sovereignty and immediately cease all military intervention in Libya".

Previously, the UAE was, with Egypt and Russia, one of the main backers of Khalifa Haftar, the eastern-based strongman in his abortive bid to defeat the UN-supported Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. In March, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a declaration demanding the withdrawal of all foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya.

The world body estimates that there were 20,000 in the country as of December. Libya has been ravaged by bloodshed since the overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed revolt in 2011. An array of armed groups arose to fill the vacuum, and many coalesced around Haftar or the GNA. The two camps, each supported by foreign powers, fought for more than a year before Haftar was forced to retreat. In October they signed a truce, setting in motion a UN-led process that saw Dbeibah's transitional unity government installed in February. - AFP