Libya is ready to vote. Through internal conflicts and external interference
(In collaboration with Termometro Politico)
Searching for a Premier. After the last months of political schizophrenia, Libyans is going to the polls to vote for their Prime Minister once again. From March to June three men followed one another in power: the disheartened Ali Zeidan first, then the outgoing Abdullah Al Thani, lastly, Ahmed Maitik, whose election was unconstitutional. In the background there are a troubled socio-economic context and a man who pulls the strings, General Kahlifa Haftar. Ex Gaddafi follower, went back to Libya when the regime fell in order to be in command of the National Transitional Council land forces, now Haftar is the leader of Operation Dignity, a fierce offensive against the Islamic troops in the East of the country. He is the real organizer of Maitik’s removal and there are on his side Special Forces (that is the elite of the Regular Army), Tobruk’s flight officers, Al Barasa, a mighty tribe from Cyrenaica, and the Zintan Brigade, located in the northwest of Libya. Mahmud Jibril, current leader of non-Islamist forces in the Parliament, is the candidate of this front.
On the contrary there is the Islamist faction, whose real candidate is Maitik, an ambitious businessman, Abdulrahman Swehli’s nephew, influential leader of Misurata. The best-known exponent of this movement, consisting of the Justice and Construction Party and the troops of Misurata, is Nuri Abu Sahimin, interim President of the Parliament and the Republic. Al Thani, who refused Maitik’s election and now is the interim current Premier, and Ali Zeidan, who went back to Libya on 19 June after spending a short period in Germany, still remain. In the background of this electoral competition, there is the possible coup by Haftar, which is not to be excluded in the near future. Moreover, there is a very critical economic situation. Over the last few months, the seaport blockage has caused the collapse in oil income: thus, the petroleum production has gone down, from 1.5 million to 250000 barrels per day. At the same time, dinar, the Libyan currency, has collapsed by 7% against US dollar. A possible and definitive breakdown of the welfare state, encouraged by the proceeds of petroleum, and the only social glue of the country for a long time, is unlikely to save Libya from anarchic scenarios.
Moreover, there are other important remarks about the external interference, which influences the current civil wars in Libya. In a divided and very sought-after country like this, the struggle between democracy and Islamic radicalism is hiding another fight between Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, on the one hand, and Muslim Brotherhood, on the other hand, competing for the leadership of Islam in the Middle Eastern area. This match is not only in Libya but also in Egypt, Syria and Yemen (with similar dynamics). The elections on 25 June won’t establish a strong government. It is unlikely to suppose a politically balanced scenario unless Libya get help from an organization, usually identified in the international community, capable of finding a meeting point among several and different localisms existing in the country. The European Union and the United States, after closing Gaddafi-era, have a duty, both political and moral, to support Tripoli in a transition that guarantees stability, not only in the Middle East but also in the West.