An escape for crisis in Libya

Friday, 2019-03-08 12:41:31
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The foreign ministers of Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia meet in Cairo to discuss Libya. (Egypt Foreign Ministry spokesperson)
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NDO – Foreign ministers of Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia recently convened a meeting to discuss the situation and seek a way out for the crisis in Libya. More than eight years have gone by since the so-called “Arab Spring”, and Libya is still immersed in deep conflict, uncertainty and divisions between factions. The stability of Libya is associated with regional security and a political solution is a “survival” issue not only for the North African country but also an extremely important issue for neighbouring nations.

After the political upheaval in 2011 to overthrow the Muammar al-Gaddafi regime in Libya, political divisions and escalating violence have engulfed Libya in prolonged conflicts for many years. Currently, there exist two governments in Libya with their own armed forces. Regardless of the signing of a political agreement sponsored by the United Nations in late 2015, Libya has not yet reached a democratic transitional process. Although the Government of National Accord (GNA) has been internationally recognised, it has yet to establish a military force of its own, but still has to rely on militia groups based in the capital city of Tripoli. Meanwhile, in the eastern region, the army of Gen. Khalifa Haftar is still carrying out crackdowns against armed groups. Despite its large oil reserves, Libya has been “exhausted” due to political and economic uncertainties. The armed groups vie for control of oil fields, seriously damaging Libya’s revenues from oil.

Three countries which play an important role in the North African region cannot have “good sleep” if their neighbour Libya is caught up in bloody conflicts. Taking advantage of the security gap in Libya, members of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) are rushing to this country to establish a new stronghold aiming to make a “springboard” for attacks on its neighbouring nations. Libya has recently become a “black market”, where weapons are freely sold as security lies beyond the control of the internationally recognised government. For fears of threats from security uncertainties, three neighbouring countries of Libya are working together to find a common solution.

With Libya on the verge of being “torn” by armed groups, countries in the region emphasised the importance of uniting the Libyan army, aiming to achieve stability for the nation, while affirming that they would not approve any forms of outside intervention in Libya, which, according to them, only further complicates the situation. A joint statement of Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia clearly stated a nine-point agreement on respecting sovereignty, stability and security of neighbouring Libya, continuing to support the construction of state agencies, and contributing to the stability of Libya. All countries in the region agreed that all political solutions can be achieved through comprehensive dialogue until elections are held based on the 2015 political agreement.

After the UN’s reconciliation efforts, representatives of the two governments in Libya, including the GNA and the government in the east, sat at the negotiating table and recently agreed to conduct the general elections. The two sides agreed to close the transitional period, move towards organising the general elections and step on the path of ensuring stability and unification of institutions of Libya. This is a groundbreaking deal, aimed at improving political stability throughout the territory of the North African nation. However, in order to ensure the enforcement of the agreement, both sides still have to overcome many difficulties and disagreements. In fact, some similar agreements were made previously but then broke down again. Meanwhile, the UN is coordinating aid partners to map out a plan for humanitarian assistance to Libya, as more than half a million people in the country are currently in need of about US$200 million for humanitarian needs and emergencies.

Conflict and uncertainty in Libya have triggered the emergence of potential risks to the North African region. The terrorist forces increasing operations in Libya have become a security threat to neighbouring countries. In this context, promoting a political solution through dialogue is believed to be the only right solution that can help Libya escape the current deadlock, thereby contributing to stabilising the regional situation.