Egypt is playing a key role in preparation for the anticipated comprehensive talks on Libya, scheduled for October in Geneva, based on the outcomes of the Berlin Conference.
For months, Egypt has been hosting preliminary Libyan meetings, the last of which took place in Hurghada in the attendance of the Libyan security committee charged with the ceasefire, military arrangements to unify the military institution and security apparatuses, and the security arrangements concerning moving the next Libyan government to Sirte, as a temporary capital.
In the near future Cairo will host other Libyan events, such as that of the constitutional committee, which will draft the framework of Libya’s constitutional document. Libya’s economic committee, delegations from east and west Libya, prime among whom are political, security, and military leaders, figureheads and diplomats from countries involved in the settlement process, and the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSML) will also converge in Cairo.
Egypt’s integral role in drawing a roadmap for the future of Libya post the Skhirat Agreement is a continuation of its efforts in the previous transitional phase, which were hampered by the complex crises Libya has endured since 2016. Flagrant foreign interventions fuelled political conflicts and military clashes during the Tripoli battle. These developments led Egypt to become more careful in dealing with the roots of the Libyan crisis through a set of basic principles based on the lessons learnt in the previous stage.
These principles include the fair distribution of wealth and power. Moreover, the Cairo Declaration, followed by the Sirte-Jufra announcement concerning the “western military zone”, have put an end to armed clashes between Libyan factions, putting on the table the political path as the only means to settle the crisis.
The UN Security Council, the UNSML, and the US have commended Cairo’s efforts in the Libyan file. The international community’s impression about Cairo’s role in settling the Libyan crisis reflects Egypt’s seriousness and ability to shift the course of events towards the internationally-agreed path – the Berlin Conference outcomes.
Egypt has been stressing joint coordination, which also reflects it is not seeking to achieve its own interests nor trying to impose a certain political authority on the Libyans. Egypt is seeking agreement between all the Libyan factions to stabilise the country torn by political and armed conflicts for a decade.
Cairo has dedicated all its political, diplomatic, and security resources to support a political settlement for Libya. The Egyptian leadership, represented by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, is paying attention to the minutest details concerning the Libyan file. Cairo has spared no effort, on the Libyan and international stages, to prevent obstacles aiming to hinder the political path.
A number of parties active in the Libyan scene are seeking their own benefits. Cairo doesn’t oppose foreign parties trying to serve their interests in Libya. It objects, however, to the mechanisms they are using to claim their interests, either through moving mercenaries into Libya or being militarily present on the Libyan ground.
This is why Cairo, in coordination with other partners, is endeavouring to end these practices, highlighting this point at every event it hosts on Libya.
Egypt is fully aware its role is not limited to drawing a roadmap for Libya’s future. More important are the implementation of the roadmap’s recommendations and overcoming challenges on the Libyan stage in the next phase.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 8 October, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly