The crisis in Libya and future scenarios |  Gulf newspaper

The crisis in Libya and future scenarios | Gulf newspaper

Dr.. Salah Al Ghoul *

The holding of presidential and legislative elections in December 2021 faltered; Because of the presence of “force majeure”, according to the High Electoral Commission in Libya. In fact, what is meant by “force majeure” is the turbulent security situation, the chronic political division, and the Libyans’ sense of fear for themselves. Since that time, Libya has once again plunged into a political maze, and the political and armed parties have returned to square one in the conflict. And it’s like last night.

1- The Libyan political labyrinth:

In February 2022, the House of Representatives withdrew confidence from the national unity government headed by Abdel Hamid Dabaiba; For failing to achieve its primary mission, which is to hold elections, a new government was assigned to be headed by Fathi Bashagha. Consequently, the country resumed a new phase of political conflict between the new government and its backers in the House of Representatives and the Libyan National Army, and the Dabaiba government and its backers of armed militias in the Libyan capital and west.

In addition to their insistence that they represent national legitimacy, the two conflicting governments are strengthening their alliances at home and abroad; Preparing for the ‘decision round’. Signs of this tour began early with armed clashes between forces affiliated with the Bashagha government and militias affiliated with the Dabaiba government in the suburbs of Tripoli last May. Bloody clashes renewed in Tripoli on August 27, between forces loyal to the two governments; It left about 160 dead and wounded. This path is the same as that taken by the warring Libyan parties in the period (2014-2020), without any result in the interest of this or that party.

The division in Libya between the two governments is not limited to the political aspect; Rather, it includes other aspects, including the geopolitical and economic aspects.

Geopolitically, the conflict between them is focused on areas of influence and control in the western region, while the eastern and southern regions are subject to the forces of Field Marshal Haftar, but the change of alliances between Libyan battalions is common, and therefore it is not excluded that the map of control and influence will change accordingly. Economically, each party is trying to control the oil fields and facilities, and the oil sector is used as a political card between the warring parties, in addition to the fact that the state’s general budget has not yet been approved; With the consequent deterioration of the level of basic services for citizens.

2- The escalation of the political role of armed groups:

Clashes between militias over areas of influence have become a regular occurrence in the Libyan West. These clashes confirm that the militias are the first and main problem facing the solution to the Libyan crisis, and their dismantling is inevitable.

In recent months, the militias’ strength has greatly increased, and the political situation has become subject to their influence. To the extent that it can favor one political party over another, especially since the military institution has not yet been unified.

Ironically, there has never been any serious discussion about the militias’ disarmament, and the possibility of their reintegration into society. The UN mission has supported the initiative of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum to establish a joint military committee and try to unite the various military parties in Libya. But the meeting of the Joint Military Committee (5+5) in Cairo in June 2022 yielded no progress. Altogether, there is no clear strategy for disarmament in a country where people own more than 20 million weapons.

3- Cairo talks, no breakthrough occurred:

Representatives of the House of Representatives and the High Council of State met in three rounds of talks in Cairo (April-June 2022); With the aim of developing a constitutional framework, in preparation for holding presidential and legislative elections on its basis. The two parties, who enjoy the support of the two conflicting governments in eastern and western Libya, under the auspices of the United Nations and with Egyptian and regional support, agreed on more than 70% of the proposed draft constitution. However, the talks broke down without achieving consensus on the remaining points of contention regarding the articles of the legislative and judicial authorities.

On the fourth of August, Parliament Speaker Aqila Saleh and President of the Supreme Council of State Khaled Al-Mashri met to complete their previous consultations in Geneva on the remaining points of disagreement regarding the “constitutional path.” However, their meeting in Cairo failed to overcome the dispute over the constitutional position on dual nationals, and the participation of the military in voting in the elections.

4- What future await the Libyans?

Last July, several Libyan cities became the scene of violent popular protests, particularly in Tobruk. The main reasons for the renewed popular protests in Libya are the continued deterioration of the economic situation, the steady increase in corruption rates, and the deterioration of the level of basic services.

The reasons behind the July protests remain. When popular discontent is added to the potential reactions of militias loyal to the Dabaiba government in the face of Bashagha’s entry into Tripoli, hell could be unleashed in the capital, while popular protests could spread across the country.

Thus, under these conditions, it is not possible to organize elections soon; The “force majeure” that prevents its organization is still present, the security situation is deteriorating, the political division is endemic, and the fear of Libyans is growing. Thus, Stephanie Williams, the former UN envoy to Libya, before leaving her post last July, described holding elections in Libya at the end of this year as a wish.

Finally, I assert that consensus between the House of Representatives, the State Council and the two governments of the country is the key to settling the Libyan crisis, and that it will not take place without the intervention of the international community with a comprehensive political initiative proposed by the United Nations and agreed upon by the major powers, or with the benign efforts of the Libyan tribal elders who are not aligned with one party or that. On the example of Pasha Saleh Al-Atyush, the sheikh of the Maghribi tribe, and one of the wise men and loyal men of Libya, who dismounted weeks ago, may God have mercy on him, at a time when the country was in dire need of his wisdom and sincerity.

* Specialist in international relations and geopolitical issues

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