Libyan castles of anger

(To Julian Carax)
15/02/21

Geopolitically, the Mediterranean fits the American expression with some precision VUCA, Where Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity they sketch out views of the Cold War. The horribilis 2020 has decreed that the Libyan crisis, if it ever has a solution, will not find it within national borders; it is enough to note Russian and Turkish presences to realize the extent of the battlefield, even if for Turkey the Libyan commitment is only part of a projection of power in spaces with Ottoman reminiscences1 and beyond, as in Somalia, where the release of Silvia Romano marked, for Ankara, the recognition of a remarkable assertiveness, for others of a moment of inane emptiness.

That the Libyan performance could reserve coup de théâtre it was clear from the moment of the announcement of the withdrawal from the political scene of al-Sarraj, head of the government official Tripoli, hostage both to territorial militias and to politicians such as the Interior Minister Bashagha, who is liked by Ankara; a premier who after 5 years lived dangerously at the helm of the GNA2, and after accepting the help of the demon turkish who, in perennial hunt for energy resources, demanded thesoul Libyan with the recognition of a shared maritime border in the eastern Mediterranean in an area claimed by Greece and the subject of further international disputes, has opted for a step back, pending new possible assignments, not excluding the UN sphere.

It is evident that if Turkey consolidates the impact determined by its intervention in Libya, it could aspire to radiate power throughout the eastern Mediterranean, to the point of undermining Israeli regional interests, not excluding those concerning Jerusalem's partnerships with Egypt.. In this regard, in 2019, the desire for normalization with Israel by the Cyrenaic Foreign Minister, Abd al-Hadi al-Haj, is interesting, who highlighted an anti-Turkish convergence: Tel Aviv can actually have an interest in supporting the eastern Libyan factions, supported by France, Egypt, Russia and the UAE against the Tripoli government, sponsored by the UN but supported by Qatar and Turkey, which push towards the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

It is no mystery that Turkey is confident that within the next 10 years Ankara will radiate the same influence in Tripoli as it did today in Mogadishu; after all, looking at past history, the Libyan geopolitical value is evident: considering North Africa as the defensible border of Anatolia, if the Ottomans had kept Libya, they could have faced the enemies in the eastern Mediterranean, removing the threat from their homeland.

Libya remains a country divided into three sectors, delineated internally with little clarity: Tripolitania controlled by the GNA, Cyrenaica in the hands of Haftar's LNA, Fezzan, where non-state entities often rage in league with terrorist and criminal organizations. With the Turks in Tripoli and the Russians in Cyrenaica, and with the prospect of the installation of their military bases on Libyan territory, a geopolitical gap is in fact created that directly affects Italy, which has aimed at an unlikely political solution through a government of national consensus heralds border relations with powers unheard of for you.

In addition to a present characterized by an uncertain and faltering foreign policy between Tripoli and Tobruk, as demonstrated by the liberation of the Mazara fishermen, which definitively put an end to the legend of Italian protagonism praised by the Farnesina, doubts remain regarding an indecipherable future. What is certain is that Turkey is training the Coast Guard with the naval means donated by Italy to Tripoli, a case that highlights a more strong-willed geopolitical approach than that of Rome, which has seen its influence in Tripolitania diminish, however gaining very little in Cyrenaica.

The need therefore stands out to find a point of synthesis that smoothes out the rivalry between the various Libyan militias, in particular between the Tripoli militias and the more aggressive ones in Misrata, but also between the aims of the foreign powers that guide the evolution of the crisis; last but not least remains the controversy concerning the distribution of oil resources, to which Haftar is particularly attentive, according to a solution compatible with the aspirations of all the defendants at the negotiating table.

A 2011 cartoon, which was intended to represent the transition to a new democratic Libya as an insoluble Rubik's cube, could be replayed without any substantial variation in 2021, and without springs indigenous and not heterodirect in sight. In this respect, what could be the foreign policy of the Biden Administration in relation to the presence of Russian mercenaries is arousing interest, and which must decide whether or not to confirm the political lines of Obama, who inherited the assault on the Benghazi Consulate. and the assassination of Ambassador Stevens.

The current political evolution is inspired by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) and in the Hurghada meetings in Egypt, in which a preliminary agreement was reached, useful for submitting the 2017 constitutional proposal to a referendum for ratification, an indispensable legal basis for the presidential and political elections of 24 December 2021. relevance of the stakes, it is however clear that a broader social consensus is lacking, especially since the referendum law is based on the assumption of a majority in all three historical regions3: it goes without saying that the lack of an agreement would block the process of political transition, which would in any case be affected by the shortcomings in terms of governance organization, in relation to the distribution of political power and state resources.

In summary, the 2017 constitutional proposal is highly insufficient in terms of institutional and security bases, and is biased towards a pervasive presidential system with weak decentralization, which does not summarize and does not compensate for the various needs of the different parts of the country. On February 5, the LPDF, after voting on leadership for its executive council, selected engineer Abdul Hamid Dabeiba (photo), a wealthy businessman who had headed the Libyan Investment and Development Company, as interim prime minister. sovereign fund launched by Gaddafi in 2007, a compromise figure, close to Islamist positions, compared to the two favorites who represented both sides in conflict, Aguila Saleh, president of the Tobruk Parliament, and Fathi Bashagha.

Head of the presidential council is former ambassador Mohammad Younes Menfi; followed by Moussa al-Koni, representative of the Tuareg minority, and Abdallah Hussein al-Lafi, from the western city of Zuwara. For many external players it was a surprise vote, including Russia, which with Ankara and Cairo was certain of Bashagha's success, however not so favored by the Kremlin due to a controversial affair concerning the detention of Russian citizens.4, and by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh5; Russia which, in a farsighted realpolitik exercise, just a week after the vote, received delegations from both sides, from the east and west of Libya, according to the not insignificant perspective of finding a valid alternative to Haftar. The feeling is that the LPDF instead of shaping a shared political consensus has highlighted the lack of a common vision among the 4 elected leaders to lead the new executive.

Institutional framework. The UN special envoy and head of UNSMIL6 Jan Kubis stressed that Prime Minister Dabeiba has the task of forming his government within 21 days, with immediate approval by the Tobruk House of Representatives to be followed by the transfer of power from the GNA; if the Chamber did not support the new government, the decision would go back to the hands of the LPDF.

Objectively, the path that separates Libya from the polls appears impervious, given that at the moment GNA and LNA seem intent on exploiting the ceasefire to reconstitute themselves in view of the resumption of hostilities, while thousands of foreign fighters remain in the country well beyond the established deadline.7 for the exit from the borders. The UN, in fact, albeit unconsciously, has facilitated the stay in power of specific elites; in addition, Dabeiba, in his first statements, wanted to thank Turkey, reiterating the desire to deepen bilateral relations with Ankara, which in turn intends to provide the highest possible legitimacy to the North African government, moreover with some success, given the immediate contacts between the new Libyan administrators and President Macron. Politically, however, it all appears to have tactical characteristics.

The government Interim it is weaker than the GNA and, like the latter, does not represent Cyrenaica; moreover, no solid ties emerge with the forces present in Tripoli, so much so that the newly established Stability Support Authority, composed of the leaders of the most important Tripoline militias and commanded by Abdel Ghani al-Kikli, head of the Abu Salim Central Security Directorate, seems who did not recognize the outcome of the vote, suggesting a lack of legitimacy.

The fact that the executive lacks a solid foundation and real political affiliation could theoretically allow for a broader range of factions, but without this enabling the new government to overcome divisions. The most direct element affecting the new executive will be the position of Haftar, whose forces control eastern and central Libya. The Eastern Libyan delegate to the Presidential Council, Mohamed al-Menfi (photo), former ambassador to Greece expelled after the maritime border agreements between Tripoli and Ankara, is an exponent of political Islam close to Tripoli, therefore not in line with Tobruk and Benghazi. All these elements of uncertainty lead us to consider Haftar's return to the military option as possible. The government ad interim, Furthermore, it does not even represent the whole of Tripolitania, while there is no representation of the Misrata militias, which supported the war effort against Haftar, and who identify with Bashagha.

In summary, the actors, pending the American decisions, in evaluating whether it is more appropriate to resume the fighting or proceed with a division of power, could leave the new executive in a limbo of poor representation without having the possibility of uniting the country in view of the elections.

In conclusion, the UN does not seem to have conveniently calculated all the aspects, so there remains the risk of a strong instability that the work of the outgoing UN delegate, Stephanie Williams was unable to avoid, having focused on the great losers Bashagah and Saleh, and having given Haftar, an actor who, in spite of everything, and barring unforeseen events, intends to still have a role.

assumptions. Leaving Italy at the window, the new Libyan government seems to be too weak to resist internal pressures and in any case its policy could fuel the attempts of violent escalation by the excluded.

Solutions. Haftar is the only strong subject, but not strong enough to impose a common policy, at least until a federated autonomy of the 3 Libyan regions is accepted with an agreement on mutual percentages from oil revenues.

Analysis dedicated "to Giuseppe Raffin, Man and Officer who now looks at us from the first brightest star of the Bear's Chariot. Good wind Commander."

1 See Nagorno Karabakh

2 Government National Accord

3 Cyrenaica to the east, Tripolitania to the west and Fezzan to the south

4 To the Monitor

5 president of the House of Representatives

6 United Nations support mission in Libya

7 23st January

Photo: web / Twitter