Chaos erupted inside Tobruk-based House of Representatives on Monday after MPs failed to select a new dialogue team to represent them in the forthcoming Libyan political dialogue meetings. MP Faraj Bu Hashem accused Parliament Speaker Aqailah Saleh of creating chaos by attempting to espouse unilateralism. “The parliament speaker is trying to impose his opinion on other MPs”, Bu Hashem posted in his Facebook timeline. The parliament session, which was broadcasted live on TV, saw a heated debate between the MPs over the selection of the new team. Aqailah Saleh wanted the new team to be selected on regional basis by him rather than by election. Using his power, Aqailah rejected the election choice and clung to his regional option, causing anger among the MPs. Other MPs, who are loyal to KhalifaHaftar, wanted the new team members to be made up of the rejectionist MPs of the Libyan political agreement. “The Presidency of the parliament is the one that is entitled to select the new team and the speaker of the parliament is the one who represents the parliament in and outside Libya”, Aqailah said live on TV, adding that discussion over the selection of the new dialogue team was put on agenda to hear the opinions of the MPs only.
Several influences composed the current Libyan context. The war against Daesh and the possible international military operation on the ground, under Italy leadership as attested by the US Secretary of State John Kerry and the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, are two geopolitical variables that could intersect in the near future.
“We have no links with Mr Serraj and the Presidential Council which he leads is not recognised by the parliament (in the east),” Haftar told i-Tele news channel in an interview in Libya. “Daesh does not have the capacity to face the Libyan armed forces, but the battle could take time. ” It’s what Geneal Khalifa Haftar said in an interview on May 20 and confirmed in following ones. So, Serraj’s visit in Egypt, the main Haftar’s sponsor, on May 26 could be determining to a possible coalition between GNA and Tobruk, which are fighting ISIS nearby Sirte.
So, the Libyan context is not going anywhere. Tobruk parliament has not already voted for GNA. On the other hand, on May 17 asked International Community for help Libya by engaging with the legitimate institutions in accordance with the political agreement. While, on May 8, he said that “”It doesn’t make sense that the international community supports our war against terrorism, and forbids us from arming ourselves.”
“We are ready to respond to the Libyan government’s requests for training and equipping the presidential guard and vetted forces from throughout Libya. The government of national accord has voiced its intention to submit appropriate arms embargo exemption requests to the UN Libya sanctions committee to procure necessary lethal arms and materiel to counter UN-designated terrorist groups and to combat Daesh throughout the country. We will fully support these efforts while continuing to reinforce the UN arms embargo,” UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
Just as Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who supposed a military support only after “we will try to reinforce the political accord, to fight against ISIS, including General Haftar, but the full recognition is needed”. While, during the meeting in Rome with GNA Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala, discussed about migration control and “the possibility of reactivating the tools set out in the 2008 friendship pact as soon as possible,” Italian government said in a statement.
GNA and Misrata militias from the South and the West; Haftar’s troops from the East. The siege of Sirte, ISIS stronghold in Libya, is underway. A military context which is causing two consequences. The first one, Western countries special forces, already on the ground since at least two months, are supervising by both and monitoring Libyan progress and Haftar’s reliability if GNA will fail. The second one, the first ISIS internal divisions caused as reported by Libyan online magazine al Wasat.
So, the next few weeks will be crucial for Libyan destiny. The pressure of United States, United Kingdom and France on Italy for an immediate military operation on the ground will particularly depend from result of war of GNA and Tobruk troops against Islamic State: therefore, General Khalifa Haftar is not still out of running.
After a week, GNC voted its dissolution. So, former prime minister Ghwell left its office. Premier Serraj stregthened its position also because of support of Tripoli and Southern municipalities as well as Central Bank of Libya, Libyan Investment Authority and National Oil Corporation. But two issues remain. Tobruk has not already ratified GNA and Haftar, supported by Egypt, who has a greated influence over Libyan National Army. And Daesh, which doubled its militants to 6,000 fighters.
UN government reached its first target. After sanctions against Ghwell, who escaped to Misurata one week ago, yesterday GNC announced its dissolution thanks to 70 representetives (it will be the new State Council). Kobler arrival on Thursday got things moving again: “The HoR remains the legitimate body to endorse the GNA. I urge the HoR to hold a comprehensive session to vote on GNA in free will,”
UN support, with US, UK, Italy and France in the background, are convincing several institution and people to support GNA. From Misrata militias one week ago, to Central Bank, LIA, NOC and several municipalities in Tripoli and southwards now. Even former premier Ghwell could be persuaded that him and its business will not touch.
“We have been working with Prime Minister Sarraj and the Presidency Council to put this period of divisions and rivalry behind us,” NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla, who predicted that exported barel production per day could return to 800 (now is 200).
From security viewpoint, situation is not difficult like one week ago. Tripoli is trying to return the capital of entire Libya, where GNA will have its stronghold. But Serraj has two missions.
The first one is to convince HoR to ratify UN government and Cyrenaica to support it. A UN military operation, with Italy as leader of international coalition (as remebered by U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter on UsaToday) will be possible only if Tobruk accepts Moroccan deal. Moreover, Haftar influence over Libyan Army and Egyptian support are not helping to form the unity government. On the contrary, as reported by several international sources, former general would want to split Libya into two parts.
The second one is against Islamic State. Indeed, jihadists passed to 6,000 fightes in the last 12 to 18 months. Daesh is not only in Sirte, but also in Benghazi, Derna and Sabratha. However, local rebels are fighting ISIS: “They are contesting the growth of ISIS in several areas across Libya,” General David M. Rodriguez, head of U.S. Africa Command, said. “They don’t have the homegrown people that know as much about Libya like they did in Iraq and Syria. ”
So, this week was only the first step. Real Libyan problems has not already solved.