Dear SouthFront readers, you know that SF is an independent platform that provides different points of view on current international issues. The article below presents an interesting opinion of one of the respected SouthFront contributors on the current situation in Libya, the role of Marshal Haftar and his ability to influence the ongoing conflict.
We invite you to express your point of view on this position in the comments.
For my part, I would like to express my personal vision.
At least, speaking about MENA region, democracy, in the form in which the West is trying to export it, is a concept that leads to a flawed and terrifying reality for ordinary people. There is not a single successful example when the social and economic system promoted by the West would help improve their lives.
The years-long civil war in Libya has shown that peace in this region is only possible as long as there is a simultaneous abidance by a number of factors.
These are the unification of the country under one leader, while meeting the certain interests of the main Libyan clans’ leadership and the key regional actors. In their turn, today such global players as the US and the Russian Federation do not act in Libya as front gamblers, but as powers that, by virtue of their capabilities, could strengthen one or another side. At the same time, the LNA’s master card is a unity around the formal leader. While criticizing Haftar, it should be taken into account that he is pursuing a more or less consistent policy towards his allies. In turn, current opponents of the LNA are constantly showing disunity. Their separate factions consistently put clan interests above national ones. In such condition, it is hard to see these forces serving as a foundation for the stable unwarring state.
Written by Maj. Gen. (R) Khalid Marshoud exclusively for SouthFront.
Conflict rages in Libya by powers aimed to achieve their political and economic regional and international interests and impose a new reality for the future of Libya in terms of the composition of the regime, the nature of Armed forces, the structure of the economy, and its international relations through using interior actors. Here, we wonder about the future reality of the political process, considering the changing reality due to internal and external factors of influence?
There is a multiplicity of actors on the Libyan arena, each calling for a political solution and violence rejection. But the reality on the ground is different. The ongoing military deployments in the east and south are backed by supportive international parties that are exerting pressure to achieve their political goals.
The major external powers influencing Libyan conflict are striving to achieve a strategy related to resources, and expansion into Africa. Each country has its internal affiliated proxy forces and political groups. If we add the regional axis, the UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, besides the rivalry of North African countries, we realize the complexities of the possibility of reaching a solution, either by the United Nations and the international community or by the Libyan parties themselves.
The Americans are willing to find a solution in Libya that blocks the Russian accesses to the warm water, after the acquisition of the Syrian port of Tartus.
Although the members of the political dialogue in Geneva are Libyans, the indirect presence of international and regional parties involved in the crisis aimed to ensure the recognition of their interests and affirm their presence on the scene. The United Nations is well aware of this.
Two practical indicators of the specter of quotas democracy emerged in the peace process, based on the “geographical triangulation”. The first relates to the distribution of the sovereign positions on a geographical basis. This indicates the absence of the concept of nation-state within the framework of the international settlement, besides the lack of a national political will far from absolute personal interests. This prompted the resort to regionalism and tribalism, in order to settle and resolve the issue of distribution of power. The distribution is not based on the mechanism of competence, experience and merit, but rather on the fortunes, opportunities available to each tribe and region, as well as political and ideological affiliations. Within the concept of “consensual democracy” that has led to administrative and financial crises and corruption in Iraq and Lebanon, making state institutions hostage to transnational loyalties and internal sectarian and partisan quotas, through which they maximize their privileges, impose their will, preserve their share of positions and protect their representatives, under the cover of political agreement and settlement, political understandings that fortified from breaching.
There is lack of acceptance of the outcomes of the Geneva Accord represented by Libyan revolutionary leaders group, questioning it’s outcomes feasibility or calling for the mobilization of the National Guard and full readiness to protect the revolution and the country.
It is not possible to implement any political consensus without a military one, which is represented in the outcomes of 5 + 5 Military Committee. Nevertheless, none of the parties of the Libyan conflict has implemented its terms, note that there are about 20 thousand foreign fighters on Libyan soil, according to the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. 2,000 of them are so-called “Wagner mercenaries”, fighting alongside Haftar’s forces and the Janjaweed, in addition to the Syrian mercenaries, who are fighting each other on both sides of the conflict parties. There is also the impossibility of the Turkish force’s withdrawal, which is the main demand of Haftar, as he announced on the anniversary of Libya’s independence.
“There will be no security or peace as long as the boots of the Turkish military are desecrating our immaculate soil,” Haftar stated. “We will carry weapons to bring about peace with our own hands and our free will.”
Haftar’s rhetoric resembles his war-time speeches in which he eagerly declared himself the “people’s choice” to rule Libya. Also, Haftar demands that all military bases that are occupied by foreign forces to be handed over to his army (LNA) after evacuation of foreign troops, which is a consecration of Haftar’s control over all state facilities using the name of the “Libyan National Army”, which will be a tool to strengthen Haftar’s grip on the state.
The peace process outcomes pose a threat to Haftar’s role in the Libyan scene, which he will not tolerate. His announcement of supporting the outcomes of the process is nothing but an attempt to adapt the new situation for his favor, in addition gaining time to reinforce his internal and external alliances in preparation for the war.
The new presidential council and cabinet need to be accredited by the Libyan parliament in full members meeting, which is difficult due to the dispersion between Tripoli and Benghazi, as well as the difference of loyalties and political subordination, as well as the expected disagreement on the place of meeting.
General Haftar does not possess real trained and professional military forces capable of changing the internal strategic equation without the presence of mercenaries and external support, and most of his acts are mostly showmanship, and he relies on inexperienced leaders of his Furjan tribe.
He is afraid of a coup after the decline of his popularity among the people and his soldiers besides his impotence in front of his regional allies, the annoyance of the Americans of his relationship with Russia and his acts, which contradict the American perception of the solution.
Also, there is a clear international desire of all controversial figures’ exclusion from the future scene and presenting new highly better accepted ones. In addition to the expected conflict with yesterday’s ally Aguila Saleh, the speaker of the Libyan Parliament, who is supposed to vote to approve the outcomes for the peace process, which he will try to disrupt for personal goals and resort to the tribal equation to seize power, at least in Tobruk.
In Tripoli, there is unlucky Fathi Bashagha, who is also supported by the Salafi militia of Misrata internally and by Turkey and Qatar externally, and who will turn against al-Sarraj and the elected Prime Minister. Abdullah al-Dabaiba, a businessman, who is from Misrata, is a founder of the Libya Future Movement, who held a prominent position under the regime of Muammar Gaddafi as he headed the Libyan Company for Investment and Development and thus had many rivals.
Military reinforcements are still flowing to Haftar, who aims to launch effective military operations against Government of National Accord in case of all foreign forces leaving Libya as “wars on terror” to justify the excessive resort to force in the pursuit of international legitimacy and political support as he did before.
The military preparations on both sides are not affected by the outcomes of the Military Committee, nor by the political consensus. The fortifications that Haftar’s militias are establishing around Sirte are threatening to derail UN-brokered peace deal.
Militias on both sides of the conflict have a strong presence and influence on the ground, their ideological affiliations and their internal and external loyalties. They can impose their will, spread violence, therefore cannot be ignored in any political settlement.
The government in Tripoli is not offering many attractive alternatives either. The UN-recognized government continues to be dominated by factionalism and petty politicking, exemplified by each ministry having its own armed militia.
New members of the Presidential Council and the Prime Minister did not participate in any military conflicts, but they ignited differences over their names and the fact of representing the Libyan regions, making them vulnerable to deviations from the agreed lines of consensus.
Consequently, it might cause further deepening of disagreement and differences, and weaken its ability to work under the pressure of international interests. Internally, it depends on the size and strength of the political opposition and the potential of transition to violent conflict. In western Libya, militia leaders do not trust the peace process of the United Nations and are reluctant to hand over their weapons, in the East, Major General Khalifa Haftar feels that there is a plan to exclude him from the political scene.
The external supporting countries of the two conflicting parties in Libya are equally suspicious of the Geneva Agreement, and the feasibility of its outcomes to achieve their interests.
The Libyan reconciliation is governed by internal factors represented by tribal interests, armed organizations, and the influence of warlords, in addition to external factors represented by the interests of countries supporting the warring parties in order to seize Libyan wealth and achieve geopolitical influence within the eastern Mediterranean and Europe.
Establishment of a political equation that guarantees the interests and achievement of the fixed goals is impossible and can only be reached by force. Therefore, the peace process is doomed to failure in light of the current Libyan reality.
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