Libya, new perspectives for the current political chaos

Libyan parties signed the agreement with the UN for a peace plan. The negotiations already running from months finally ended, but the Tripoli Government disagreed. The political situation in Libya seems to have taken a decisive breakthrough. Since the last year, the several negotiations attempts to end the political chaos in the area failed continuously, enforcing the political instability that has been aggravated in the last period by the ISIS attacks.

The UN main objective is to put an end to the presence of the two Governmental factions that are ruling at the same time in the country. Lacking a central authority, Libya is actually split in two parts that are represented by: the Government of Tobruk, recognized by the international community and led by Abdullah al-Thani, and the Government of Tripoli represented by the General National Congress (GNC), its non-recognized Parliament represented by different parties among which the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic coalition Libya Dawn.

Last year, Bernardino León was appointed UN Special Representative and Head of the UNSMIL. After several attempts, at the beginning of July 2015, León proposed a peace deal that was approved in Skhirat (Morocco). The peace deal has been signed by the representatives of Tobruk, Zintan, Misrata and by independent groups, but Tripoli did not sign because it did not take part to the meeting. Afterwards, the spokesperson for the General National Congress (GNC) Mowafaq Hawas declared: “We are still in the dialogue, but we do not really understand why they are rushing to sign before all the parties agree”. The plan aims to end the fights and it will work to create a unique national Government, but Tripoli considers it a “treason” and the sanctions as “the creation of a fascist dictatorship under the auspices of the UN”. In addition, the President of the GNC Nouri Abusahmain expressed his disappointment about the draft and declared his will to take part to the next UN meetings to modify the text. León considers this agreement “the first step towards the peace” but the situation is still far from a definitive resolution. During one of the negotiation meetings, U.S. Special Envoy for Libya Jonathan Winer observed, “there are only four of the delegates who did not sign” and he added, “there is an opportunity for those who have not yet initialed this agreement to come aboard”. In addition, the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi considers this agreement an important step toward the end of the current disastrous situation in the North African country. He also added that this agreement is fundamental to solve the terrorism and immigration issues. The negotiators are going to meet after Ramadan and they already expressed their will to proceed with or without the support of Tripoli. Nevertheless, the situation in Libya is still chaotic and, in the last few days, the country has been animated by terroristic attacks.

After the Gaddafi-era, Libya inaugurated a turmoil period characterized by political instability and by consequence, social discontent. During the last four years, the Libyan panorama appeared quite far from the concepts of stability and safety. Since 2011, the country has been represented by three factions (Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan) and two Governments ruled separately, contributing to increase the status of political “impasse” for the whole country, exasperated by gangsterism, religious fanaticism and during the last period a high level of ISIS menaces and attacks. From the beginning of the negotiations, the GNC refused to cooperate in order to realize a unique and safe political system for the country. Since his settlement, as “moderator” of the political negotiations, León affirmed his will to guide the different factions towards a dialogue for an ad hoc Government for Libya, and not to enforce a unilateral decision for the Government birth. The political stability of Libya is an international issue and the agreement just signed could be considered a first step towards a stability period in the Mediterranean Basin.

In January, the GNC suspended the Tripolitania participation to the negotiations, accusing the opposite faction (Tobruk) to have attacked the Central Bank in Benghazi. After the failed meetings that took place in Geneva, the UN inaugurated a second session of negotiations. That time, the meeting were hosted in the Western Libyan city, Gadames. The last session started in June in Morocco. At the beginning of the session, the GNC seemed to agree with the draft proposed by the UN and to consider it full of positive ideas to inaugurate a new political era. On the contrary, the Council of Deputies expressed its discontent and suggested some amendments. After the first meeting, the two counterparts asked the modification of the León’s text. Tripoli refused to take part in the last meeting during which the UN approved the peace deal. The plan rejected by GCN consists on a one-year Government characterized by “a council of Ministers headed by a Prime Minister and two deputies would have executive authority. The Council of Deputies would be the legislative body”. The draft also highlights the sovereignty of the Libyan population, the preservation of its integrity and independence. It condemns terrorism and every form of violence.

Considering this an undefined political period, the terroristic militants increased the ISIS presence in the country contributing to complicate the situation both on the internal side and on the external one. During the last years, the Libyan question attracted the international attention and to guarantee to its population safety and stability, it needs the intervention of foreign forces. The question is quite complex in all its fronts: politically, the current double Government existence, until this last phase of negotiations, has created a difficult game of forces, also determined by the composition of the two Governments (the Government in Tripoli is also represented by extremist forces such as Ansar al-Sharia) and the birth of a single central Government, that encompasses that political mosaic, will be a complex undertaking. At the same time, settling a new Government on the evanescent basis of the last years and on a political disastrous heritage will be an international challenge because, as already mentioned, the ISIS presence in the Libyan area is not a negligible detail.

Establishing a Government in Libya also means ending the immigration issue that lately has made the Mediterranean Basin a “theater of tragedy”. Moreover, to ensure a unique political identity in Libya would mean to raise its economic fortunes, and in particular the oil trend that, since the 2011, has declined although it cannot be considered devastating. From the social point of view, the birth of a Government built on democracy principles would guarantee the protection of minorities and consequently their reinstatement.

The relaunch of the country will therefore ensure benefits in all its aspects, and it will give dignity to a State whose geopolitical value is definitely important for both the Mediterranean and for the international scenario. The conclusion of the fifth session of the negotiations is therefore the first concrete step to restore order in a country, to date, is only a chaos generator.

Lucia Vasta

Master’s Degree in Languages and Economic and Legal Institutions of Asia and North Africa (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)

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