In Libya, the pitched battle between Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibah and his rival Fathi Bachagha never ends. The international community is fueling the confusion with paradoxical messages.
In Libya, nothing is going well. Whose fault is it ? It would be too simple to attribute responsibility for Libya's political failure to one party rather than another. If the international community bears a big responsibility for this failure, the many Libyan protagonists have done nothing to fix things.
A decade after French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed to "deliver the Arab peoples from servitude" and intervened "in the name of the universal conscience which cannot tolerate such crimes", in 2022 the country still seems ungovernable.
And it is not the two Prime Ministers, Abdel Hamid Dbeibah, and his rival designated by the eastern parliament, Fathi Bachagha, who will say the opposite.
A cold war in Libya
Western countries were quick to support Bachagha. The latter, who also enjoys the support of the strongman of the east, Khalifa Haftar, virtually holds the reins of Libyan hydrocarbons by arms. Internationally, Egypt, France and Morocco are also behind the Bachagha clan.
But more than a month after Bachagha's appointment, Dbeibah realized that to stay in power he, in turn, had to control the oil and gas taps to be taken seriously.
From now on, the intervention of the dignitaries of the tribes of Fezzan changes the situation. Last Saturday, in Misrata, about twenty tribal and militia leaders issued a statement in which they “refuse the formation of a parallel government or to go through another phase of transition”.
"We reject the attempts to strengthen the criminals against the Libyan people, and the intervention of some countries in the region that support the House of Representatives (HoR)", can we read in this press release.
Clear support for Dbeibah, who continues to strengthen his position. But if Dbeibah, like Bachagha, hesitates to take action to wage war on his rival, it is above all because confusion reigns as to the position of Western countries and, in particular, of the United Nations.
The UN again throws in the towel in Libya
Go back. The day after Bachagha was appointed by the HoR, the spokesman for the UN Secretary General, Stéphane Dujarric, backed the new prime minister. The same day, the UN special representative in Libya and acting head of Manul, the American Stephanie Williams, adopted a more nuanced position.
But since then, none of the Libyan belligerents takes UN interventions seriously.. The proof, after dozens of meetings with Libyan officials, Stephanie Williams is struggling to reach a consensus. And his position on Libyan politics is still unclear.
“I have offered the good offices of the United Nations to mediate a resolution to the crisis of control of executive power. I also announced an initiative to convene a joint committee of the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State (HCS) to establish a sound constitutional basis to bring the country to national elections as soon as possible. “Simply declared, this Sunday, Williams.
A way of throwing in the towel on the part of the UN official. Because calling for elections, without specifying which ones or in what context, does not serve any party in Libya. Especially since the resounding failure of the presidential election of December 24, the calendar of which had been imposed by the UN and the West, by eliminating any African intervention, is still a gaping wound.
The United States mediates between Dbeibah and Bachagha
Elections are always one of the main topics of speeches by Bachagha and Dbeibah. The two rival Prime Ministers multiply the promises. Dbeibah assured to be able to hold legislative elections, followed by a constitutional referendum, next June. Bachagha, he both assured that he would not seek any position of power after the new transition - estimated at fourteen months -, and that he will organize presidential and parliamentary elections "within a deadline agreed between the HoR and the HCS ". However, the two parliamentary chambers have never agreed since 2014…
The American ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, is not done adding grist to the mill either.. After a call to order from Bachagha and Dbeibah, he issued a statement last Saturday saying that the two rivals “will continue negotiations under the aegis of the United Nations aimed at reaching a political agreement on how to lead the end of the transition, as well as the organization of elections as soon as possible".
And in order to guarantee peace, while an improbable agreement emerges between Bachagha and Dbeibah, the US Federal Court has agreed to resume the trial of Khalifa Haftar for alleged crimes against humanity. A sword of Damocles that the United States has been bringing up to date with Libyan news for more than two years. A way also, for Richard Norland and his superiors in Washington, to bring Haftar to heel. Because, seeing the capture of Tripoli by Bachagha, Khalifa Haftar could become impatient and provoke a new civil war in Libya.