After a Decade of Chaos, Can a Splintered Libya Be Made Whole?
CAIRO – Waving flags and ornamental lights in red, white and green on buildings and lampposts around the Libyan capital, Tripoli, rose this month to mark the 10th anniversary of the dictator who toppled his dictator.
There seems to be a reason to celebrate: after a decade of fighting and instability, a new interim government was formed, promising to unify a country and hold democratic elections by the end of the year.
Outside the banks, where some customers were waiting in six-hour lines, to claim their salaries, at gas stations where only fuel was available, and in the Tripoli suburb of Ain Zara, where Ahmed al-Ghamoudi was Have been without electricity for months. Last year, the festive lights seemed much less than a mockup.
I have heard all this about the eight-year elections, and nothing has changed except that we are growing up, ”said Mr. Gammoudi, 31, who works in a 14-hour shift at the Tripoli Cafe. The house, which was damaged during the Libyan civil war. “Every year the situation gets worse, and every incoming government says that it will not be more than two years before the elections are held, but what happens is the exact opposite. The only thing that is war. “
His cynicism lies in the experience.
Since its dictator Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi was out of power Arab Spring Rebellion Flowing over a decade ago in the Middle East, Libya has seen its hopes of change and more and more freedom descend into a rinse and repeat cycle of diplomatic progress, followed by post-war deadlock – and, all of this, Libya There is deep sorrow for the people of
But diplomats and analysts say the UN-brokered government in Geneva this month, while there is no guarantee of peace or stability, represents a breakthrough.
After talks by 74 politicians, power brokers and representatives of Libya’s many regional factions and tribes, the transitional government intends to take the next step towards unifying the oil and gas-rich country An october truce In his civil war.
Until a few months ago, the International Leadership Group’s Libyan expert, Claudia Gazzini, said that it would be difficult to imagine this group to vote for new leadership. The Provisional Government has also managed to claim lukewarm or strong, among Libya’s political factions, business interests, geographical rivals and foreign powers confused key players.
“I would not have placed a single cent at stake on this UN dialogue platform,” he said, recalling how previous efforts had blown up as a result of foreign spoils or sabotage between Libyan factions. “But we have not seen these aggressive reactions, and so I say that all these factors go well together. All of this may not work, but until we have an immediate military response, this is all good news. “
In part, the cautious acceptance has to do with Abdul Hameed Dabiba, the man chosen, after a surprise vote, to serve as interim prime minister.
A wealthy merchant from the coastal city of Misurata, Mr. Dabiba, for many, represents the “culture of corruption,” al-Qaddafi-era. An analyst put it. According to analysts, among Libyan oligarchs, he is seen as a non-ideological deal-maker with whom all parties can negotiate.
“Dabiba, just the family name, leaves a bad taste in Libya’s mouth,” said Libyan analyst Tarek Mergesi of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Still, he said, the new leaders “technically have the key to the vault, and because everyone wants access to the state’s coffins, and they’re going to try to work with him.”
Mr. Debiba did not respond to an interview request.
Other analysts were Low bayonet, Noting that the UN-sponsored political forum had failed to produce a set of interim leaders with ties in Libya’s most important political constituencies, as well as its three major regions, as it aimed to do Was. Instead, the forum led a group that was aligned with Turkey, one of the major foreign powers, with sway in Libya.
During the recent 15-month civil war, Khalifa Hifter, an eastern military commander seeking the removal of an internationally supported government in Tripoli, was assisted by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. It was Turkish intervention on behalf of the Tripoli government that forced Mr. Hifter to retreat and lead to the end of the war.
But Mr Hifter, whose armies still control most of eastern and central Libya, has publicly welcomed the new government, a surprise that Mr Hifter might see an opportunity: although he was given his chance last year There was a danger of marginalization after the defeat. The new government will need its support to succeed.
The interim government – Mr. Dabiba and a three-member President’s Council – is weak in itself.
A group of 74 Libyans chose it, “hardly representative”, wrote Emeddin Badi, senior associate of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, and senior fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Program.
Instead of crossing the Libyan divide, he wrote in. An article For the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the result could allow competing factions to “seize the sharing opportunity” Spoils Strengthen Libya’s oil wealth and its respective customers and armed groups – much as they did in the previous Libyan governments. “
The nominated government should first produce a cabinet accepted by various factions, which has no apology, then obtain approval from the House of Representatives, which is divided into eastern and western factions and has so far agreed to meet in the same city Not possible .
Even if the provisional government faces those challenges, it faces the task of re-unification of Libya’s central bank and other institutions whose divisions have crippled the country and its economy and its vast Has redeemed the public payroll of oil revenue. A new electoral law, new constitutional framework and nationwide elections are scheduled to run until December.
For many Tripolitans, these are distant concerns. What matters to them are rogue militias, who control the capital, intermittent electrical blackouts, hospitals affected by coronovirus and a shortage of medicines and the rising price of basic things including rice, milk and tomato paste. In some places, gasoline can only be found on the black market; Almost all of them, due to a liquidity crisis, draw long lines in banks every day.
Outside a Tripoli bank on Thursday, where the line was long with dozens of customers and some waiting for six hours to withdraw cash, there was little hope that this year would prove to be any different.
42-year-old Amiri Drami said, “Many governments have come and gone and all of them promised to rectify the situation.” “But you can see the situation in front of you for yourself. And this crisis has been going on for years. “
Ms. Drami’s father suffers from cancer, but none of the public hospitals in which she tried needed medication. While his family messes with foreign forces and mercenaries Are scattered All over Libya, a January deadline for UN arms violations and withdrawal from Libya.
“It seems we are paying the price for all this,” Ms. Drami said, “from our pocketbook, our health and our lives.”
Vivian Yi reported from Cairo and Mohammad Abdusmi from Tripoli, Libya.