Political Observation - Upshots of the Libyan Political Dialogue

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - Upshots of the Libyan Political Dialogue

The last round of voting by the 75 members of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum set up by the United Nations and consisting of 75 members, 13 of whom are from the House of Representatives, and 13 from the High Council of State, in addition to members from various tribal and political milieux, took place on 5 February 2021 in Geneva. The vote was won by the third list headed by Mohammad Younes Menfi from the “east”, Mousa al-Kouni from the “south”, Abdullah Hussein Al-Lafi from the “west”, and prime minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah from Misrata.

The fourth list headed by Aqilah Saleh, with Abdul Majeed Ghaith Seif Al-Nasr representing the south, Osama Abdul Salam Juwaili representing the west, and Fathi Ali Abdul Salam Bashagha as prime minister, lost the vote.

The list of the Libyan diplomat and former ally of the Justice and Construction party (Muslim Brotherhood), Mohammad Younes Menfi, together with Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah, won by 39 votes, whereas their rivals Aqilah Saleh, head of the Tobruk-based parliament, and Fathi Ali Abdul Salam Bashagha, interior minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), won 34 votes.

The winning list is expected to run the country’s affairs for an interim period, until the presidential and parliamentary elections are held on 24 December 2021.

These results were seconded by regional and international support, as well as meeting approval of all domestic stakeholders such as the government of al-Sarraj in Tripoli and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives headed by Aqilah Saleh who pledged to “support the work of the government”.
As for the US administration, it called for a smooth and constructive handover of all the competencies and duty to the new executive authority and vowed to bring to account all those who undermined stability and hampered the political process in Libya. The agreement was also welcomed by the UN Secretary General, the League of Arab States, and the states sponsoring Khalifah Haftar.

In order to perceive what has been achieved by the 75-member committee commissioned with electing the key positions of the state, and which resulted in appointing Mohammed al Menfi as interim president of the High Council of State and Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah of Misrata as interim prime minister, it would be imperative to realise that all the candidates for the post of prime minister had pledged in writing to adhere to the roadmap agreed upon in Tunis, which stipulated the criteria for selecting the nominees for the key positions in the new executive authority, namely the president of the High Council of State, his two deputies, and the prime minister, and which also stipulated unifying the executive authority that had been divided since 2014, and forging ahead with implementing the host of security, military, economic and political measures, culminating in organising general elections and appointing a permanent government in December. It would also be imperative to realise that the task assigned to this authority is temporary and those assuming it would not be eligible for nomination in the forthcoming phase. This was corroborated by the deputy head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Stephanie Williams, who stated that the interim executive authority would work on the specific process, that is evacuating foreign forces and tackling domestic Libyan challenges. She stressed that the selection mechanism would yield an interim executive authority with specific competencies, and its main task would be to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on 24 December 2021.

Since the mandate of the elected authority is temporary, constrained to an agenda predetermined by the “roadmap” and involving the withdrawal of foreign forces and tackling domestic challenges according to the Berlin Conference’s upshots, which are in line with the American vision proposed by the US Congress under the “Libya Stabilization Act”, and since the bloc that won the vote is approved by the forces of western Libya, discarding Aqilah Saleh and his gang in eastern Libya, and Fathi Bashagha in western Libya on whom the US will be relying in the future, removing the top tier leaderships and the controversial personalities in Libya, including the Head of the High Council of State Khaled al-Meshri, from the political façade at this stage, and portraying the new authority as being a technocrat government, this means they intend to deceive the people of Libya, especially in Tripoli and Misrata, thus smoothing the way for the “losing” forces and enabling them in the forthcoming and permanent phase, once the task of the interim presidency and government has ended, to contain the domestic forces and muzzle the foreign forces, especially as the criteria of selecting the head of the Presidential Council have conferred the highest post to the east, and given the post of its two deputies to the west and the south, and confined the post of prime minister to a personality from the west. This is because the main problematic lies in the forces of western Libya where the people of the region continue to resist and uprise, and the spread of weapons and insecurity are rife, which prevents the agents of the US from controlling the state, and impacts negatively on the stability of Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and the Sahel region. This would inevitably lead to taming and demoralising the masses, and working towards containing the people of western Libya and their armed groups and ending the struggle at the hands of their representatives.

The elected prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, pledged in a message he addressed via video to the members of the forum to “end the struggle, hold elections on democratic principles, work with everyone irrespective of their thoughts, constituents, sects and regions, solve the problem of electricity and liquid cash, keeping weapons in the hands of the state, and improve relations with neighbouring states.”

Hence, the recent developments do not express a change in the rules of the game as much as America’s circumvention of the reality she has generated through her agents to contain the popular dynamism and through introducing international and regional forces to fan the flames of struggle and rift between them, now that she has exhausted all the pretexts and designed a mechanism to restore the personalities she wants to power through a host of political and legal understandings to be overseen by the “mercurial” al-Menfi who was a supporter of Gaddafi during his student days in France, then established an alliance with the Justice and Construction Party, i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood, and then the patriotic forces led by the American agents Mahmoud Jibril. The understanding will also be overseen by Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, one of the former beneficiaries of the Gaddafi regime and supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and armed groups. These two agents are allegedly “clean” and have not been involved in corruption or the bloody struggle between east and west in 2019 and 2020.

This explains the international welcome, including by Egypt, France and Greece, the sponsors of Khalifah Haftar and Aqilah Saleh, and explains why Stephanie Williams described the voting process that took place in the Geneva suburbs as a historic moment.

The US will most probably bulwark the new government with a Security Council resolution against any foreign intervention and domestic impediments, and this is what the departing prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj called for.

It is also expected from Abdul Hamid Dbeibah to work towards containing the forces of the west in Tripoli and Misrata, and conducting the relationship with Turkey with a view of determining her mission, while al-Menfi and al-Kouni will be expected to assume the task of reproducing the forces of eastern and southern Libya which will involve curbing the personal ambitions of Khalifah Haftar, unifying the military, security and civil institutions, forming regular forces, monopolising the weapons for the state, spreading dominance over society, including the Tuaregs who are being incited by France to seek secession in the south, downsizing French, Russian and Turkish meddling, and working towards nurturing the interim period and leading the country towards the upcoming elections. This is what infuriated Macron and led him to call for expelling Turkish soldiers from Libya following the agreement concluded by the Libyan forces and decisive riposte he received from Erdoğan.

It is clear that the situation in Libya is heading towards downsizing the role of all foreign powers as America has succeeded in imposing a consensus between the warring factions with the aim of settling the domestic situation, nullifying the pretexts for foreign intervention and conducting the struggle in Eastern Mediterranean, despite the deep regional and ideological rifts among the Libyan stakeholders, which have been nurtured by regional rivalries, and despite the caveats pertinent to the “Islamists” remaining part of the political landscape and impacting the regimes of the region and the regional alliances. This is proved by the assurances given by Stephanie Williams stipulating that the government will assume its tasks irrespective of whether the parliamentarians gave it a vote of confidence or otherwise, because the “roadmap” on which the UN envoy insisted and placed in a prohibited area has tackled this issue through the mechanism of settling the struggle, namely returning to the Political Dialogue Forum to approve the government in case a dispute over it arose.

Although the glitter of the roadmap concocted by America, the enemy of the Ummah, to end the struggle in Libya may deceive the gullible and trusting people, it however does not deceive the insightful from among the Ummah’s children, who are aware that the solutions coming from their enemies are in fact designed to shackle them further, and that the solutions to their problems can only be those which they impose with their own willpower, once they have rectified the situation and seized the reins of power to put an end to the meddling of the Kuffar, the enemies of the Ummah, in their affairs.

27 Jumada al-Oolah 1442h
9 February 2021