Published on July 24, 2020, by Ali Hachani.
Written by Ali Hachani, former Ambassador
Translated by Anouar Ben Messaoud
The Libyan issue is going through dangerous developments nowadays, which portend the outbreak of a relentless war in the center of the country as well as its west – where not only local conflicting parties contest for power – but also foreign nations, each having its own geostrategic and economic goals that are not necessarily compatible with the goals of the brotherly Libyan people as well as the peoples of the Maghreb, who have common destiny and close relations with Libya. The situation is further complicated by the failure of the international community, represented by the United Nations, which did not register any progress towards a way out of the crisis and could not even convince the concerned parties to sit down around a negotiating table in order to share power in a way that preserves the country’s unity and secures each actor’s share from the country’s wealth. Could it be otherwise while external parties spoil every possibility for the UN to getting the Libyan stakeholders together, as they provide weapons and equipment to the sides they support and send foreign fighters in a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions, thus, falsely making them believe they will inevitably be the winners of the last round of fighting? However, these internal sides do not know or neglect that the last round will be determined by foreign powers either by agreeing among themselves to share influence, interests and lands in Libya, or, which is more likely, to set the country on fire and make Libyans and the peoples near Libya its firewood.
There is an eastern Asian country, which remembered in recent years the greatness of its Muslim empire, and apparently wants to restore its ancient glory, forgetting that it handed over the Arab world that mostly belonged to this empire, to Christian colonialists without showing any resistance, after it had divided the Arab world, depleted it, and ruled it for centuries without much attention to the rights and feelings of its indigenous people. Now, this eastern Asian country wants us to believe that it is approaching us again, using Libya as a pretext, to protect our interests and beliefs from Western ambitions. In fact, the first thing it did after taking control of Libya’s capital, thanks to its links to a government that derives its “international” legitimacy from an incomplete agreement, was to give itself endless rights to Eastern Mediterranean wealth and begin digging into these resources without waiting for the end of the crisis and without taking into account the interests of the countries in the region, including Tunisia. Additionally, this country has turned into ruling unilaterally through deciding: who is legitimate and who is illegitimate among Libyan officials, who has the right to sit at the negotiation table and who should not be entitled to, when should a ceasefire be considered and under what conditions, where a ceasefire line should be determined and who should monitor it… All these are conditions that a foreign country should never be allowed to set. To strengthen its negotiating chances, this country sends thousands of mercenaries, provides them with the latest advanced weaponry and drones, and mobilizes its navy forces off the Libyan coast, acting exactly as an imperialist state dealing with a weak and occupied state. It is even preparing itself to occupy two military bases, one airbase that is few kilometers away from Libya’s borders with Tunisia and Algeria, the other one is a naval base wherefrom to monitor all movements along the Mediterranean Sea.
There is a European-Asian country, which is looking for regaining its position in the world and seeking to be present in the “heated” international waters, especially the Mediterranean Sea, wishing to reach the closest roads to the heart of Africa, as it fears the expansion of the first country mentioned above in the Western Mediterranean after conflicting with it over the control over North Western Syria, threatening to transfer the existing ideological conflict there and deepen it in the heart of the Maghreb region, the black continent, and the Caucasus Islamic region. This is a major power, which also aspires to be stationed in military bases in central and eastern Libya to monitor movement in the region and to preserve its interests in relation to oil and gas routes in the Mediterranean. It also sent a large number of mercenaries to back up the side that it supports, providing it with modern equipment, including the latest aircraft in its arsenal.
There are also Western European countries, some of them situated on the northern shore of the Mediterranean and others far from it. They had a fundamental role in driving Libya into the whirlpool in which it is going through today, via their direct contribution or support for the invasion of the Libyan lands by NATO forces and the overthrow of the regime that existed then in the name of relief of civilians, and here they are today repeating the same scenario claiming interest in the Libyan people by interfering in Libyan affairs, using as a pretext the practices of the two aforementioned countries.
This is while the other major power beyond the Atlantic adheres to a fluctuating stance, keen only on protecting its geostrategic interests and preserving a foothold in the region while preventing other powers from settling in Libya and without paying attention to the fate of the Libyan people, in whose hardship it had also been part ten years ago.
In this context, we cannot turn a blind eye on some Gulf States that want to transfer their ideological and personal disputes to the Libyan lands and may be to most of the Maghreb lands, as they stand today on one side or another of the political equation in Libya, supporting it with money and material. Are they conscious or unconscious that by using such a method they are participating in tearing up an Arab Muslim country?
What is weird is that with all of these interferences in the Libyan affairs, there are those who disapprove the preventive measures taken by two neighboring countries, Algeria and Egypt, which are-along with Tunisia- the closest to Libya. Algeria plans to give its armed forces the ability to move outside its borders to confront any external imminent danger, while the Egyptian Parliament has authorized the executive branch to respond to requests from “legitimate” Libyan authorities, to help repel any attacks conducted by extremist mercenaries related to foreign sides, which are many as we have seen, and posing a threat to the security of Libya and Egypt. These measures are preventive steps that should be seen as necessary, given the level of threat that our region is exposed to.
The threat may also affect the Tunisian Republic, which has, up to now, dealt with the Libyan issue through political means, by trying to distance itself from internal and external forces and seeking to influence the course of events through diplomatic means, along with other neighboring countries and through the UN Security Council, where Tunisia currently has a non-permanent seat. But, does this approach still meet the actual need while in fact the drums of war are beating heavily on our southern borders and the intransigence in positions has become prevalent, especially from the side that considers a relative change in the balance of power in the recent period as an incentive to move forward trying to impose the fait accompli.
There is no doubt that our national army is highly prepared and is very qualified. However, if the opposing forces wanted to transfer their war outside their borders, they must be confronted with a strong internal front, and with full agreement with other countries of the region, especially the Maghreb ones. Our country is entering the coming period and the consequences of the Corona pandemic still stand, while the internal political, economic and social situation continue to be very fragile with an outgoing government and a diplomacy that is looking to re-energize after the dismissal of two ministers of foreign affairs during a short period of time, along with relations among Maghreb countries that are still in pretty rough shape. This makes the return to a normal internal situation and to a more stable diplomacy an absolute necessity, in the earliest possible time. This also makes the quick return to coordination among Maghreb countries on the Libyan issue including its military and security aspects, very crucial.