The desired settlement of the Libyan crisis

Mohamed Abu El-Fadl, Wednesday 21 Aug 2019

It is high time to expose those who wish to foment the Libyan crisis, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which is pursuing objectives opposed to the interests of the Libyan people

File photo: A member of Misrata forces, under the protection of Tripoli
File photo: A member of Misrata forces, under the protection of Tripoli's forces, takes his position near a military camp in Tripoli, Libya April 9, 2019. (Reuters)

The Libyan crisis has revealed the depth of contradictions in the behaviour of some regional and international powers. While these powers claim that they seek a successful political settlement, they spill blood in the conflict through aiding armed gangs, providing them with military equipment, extremist elements and mercenaries in order to prolong the crisis. At the same time, they are silent towards violations committed by the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the State Council and those standing behind them whether, states or currents allying themselves with cross-border terrorist groups.

When the Libyan National Army (LNA) intervened in order to crush terrorist militias and firmly end the Tripoli battle and open a path for a real settlement, criticisms were poured on it from parties that benefit from spreading tensions and conflict. These parties redoubled their efforts, relying on opening new breaches in the south, scattering efforts aiming at a fast solution that would stop current lawlessness and hampering moves made by Egypt in this direction.

The liberation of Tripoli succeeded in getting rid of a considerable chunk of the armed capabilities of the armed militias upon which the GNA relies, launching painful strikes on the Turkish operations room and drone launching centres in Misrata, Zuwara and Tripoli. Consequently, the remnant forces of the government and its hard-line allies search for ways to distract the LNA, engage it in battles that would relieve the pressure from which the armed militias suffer, and improve the political situation of its collaborators.

Egypt’s statement last week concerning the call for reaching a comprehensive settlement presented a set of clear lines upon which a general solution should be based, instead of circumventions adopted by circles claiming that they intend to end the crisis.

The significance of the Egyptian statement lies in putting dots on letters regarding illegitimate bodies engaged in continued coordination with hard-line organisations and battalions practising terrorism as means to collect political, financial and ideological gains. It stressed the vital role played by the Libyan House of Representatives as being the sole constitutional entity and likely to play a pivotal role in the next period.

The statement stirred a lot of water on more than one level. Some international powers, in the forefront come the US and Russia, spoke about the urgent need for a profound political solution for the crisis, the importance of addressing extremist groups, uprooting terrorism in Libya and ending chaos through a plan putting each party before its legal responsibilities. This annoyed powers that collected gains from the current lawlessness and drove them to concentrate on secondary matters so as to distract the Egyptian foreign ministry after it received positive feedback from inside and outside Libya.

Some have fears of repercussions when the Egyptian statement touched upon a number of essential issues that have been neglected for too long, and exceeded the limits of usual disclosure and candour. This has worried certain political powers that are afraid of talk about losing legitimacy and light being shed on the dangerous roles they are playing beyond their terms of reference. Moreover, the issuing of the statement coincided with these powers’ exhaustion and inability to communicate with countries and UN personalities whom they were close to and fear now to be incompatible with or stuck with. Because the anti-extremist and anti-terrorist vision is gaining new political ground every day, it embarrasses those refusing to apply it to the whole of Libya and other countries.

The nerves of the Muslim Brotherhood, which controls the State Council and holds the reins in the GNA headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj, was shaken after Egypt specified the basic determinants for a solution and came closer to points which were off-limits previously. The statement opened the door for talks about important matters concerning the required regulations in any future political agreement, so as to tighten the noose on those who like to renege on their commitments or apply them in ways that ensure the achievement of concealed objectives.

Egypt has sent strong signals to stop the looting of Libyan resources and the unfair distribution of wealth, warning against a lack of transparency in public expenditure, especially by the Central Bank and the National Oil Corporation. The majority of Libyans have suffered from unfair practices and became certain that a significant portion of natural resource royalties was deducted to fund extremist groups and terrorist organisations. Such royalties were also used to bring mercenaries and pay the cost of weapons and equipment coming from Turkey, or with its knowledge.

As for the Muslim Brotherhood, focusing on this issue will force some parties to intervene in order to stop the wastage of the country’s wealth, going on for years and exposing the role that organisation’s leaders played, gaining huge sums of money through illegal deals, brokerage operations and funding terrorists and armed gangs, and using political figures to achieve their goal of controlling key state posts. In addition, they smuggled funds abroad to finance dirty operations sponsored by Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leaders residing in both Turkey and Qatar.

It is high time to expose the actions of those who wish to prolong the crisis and work swiftly to put the brakes on persistent attempts to increase tensions. Any integrated drive for a settlement will sweep away political leaders and entities that were involved in fomenting infighting. This explains the rage certain powers feel, for they are certain that they will be the first parties brushed aside while the local, regional and international current supporting a comprehensive settlement is expanding.

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