Posted on Jul 24, 2020
Never before in its history has Libya been so battered by numerous simultaneous foreign interventions. Never in its history has this flagship of North Africa aroused so much foreign envy. Distinguished by its important geo-strategic location, the country has survived multiple occupations from the Roman Empire to the Italian regent, through the Byzantine to the Ottoman Empire.
At first glance, the current situation seems to be getting out of hand for Libyans themselves: it even overweighs both those who legitimately govern Libya, and those self-proclaimed representatives of the people, whether of real or supposed legitimacy, obtained through means both reprehensible and heretical.
The author of this article seeks not to judge, or to be involved in the crisis: his objective is beyond imputing motives on any of the internal Libyan actors, be they right and wrong: they all seek a prosperous future for the country.
A lasting solution to the Libyan crisis could crop up by dint of Libyans themselves, discussing freely and unapologetically blunt with one another in order to find a solution for their shared plight.
In fact, this is the only feasible course of action towards a sustainable peace. It is this internal synergy alone that can save Libya from a guaranteed disaster; this synergy that the Libyans must cultivate, adopt and hoist as a unique strategy for the sake of exiting the current crisis.
To give it every chance of success, it is above all necessary to protect it from any foreign interference. Therefore, we may say to all Libyan people: "You know better than anyone the real intentions of all the external actors".
The most enlightened observers of the Libyan scene agree unanimously about Libya’s fate being mortgaged by international and regional powers. They furthermore assess that unless Libyans literally take charge of their own fate, the scenario of Libya’s partition will remain in the hands of those same international powers.
However, each of these has their own agenda, which the Libyan people are all too aware of. Perhaps, apart from this internal synergy they are only left with the logic of “the weak before the strong”, a reasoning that has been lambasted by many renowned great minds of Mankind such as Nietzsche and Hegel.
In the same vein, if the scenario of Libya’s partition into zones of influence were to materialise, those Libyan officials who allowed it to happen would be remembered as zealots responsible for the division of a country which had, during its long history, remained unified in the face of numerous imperialist ventures.
That same history, which brings to mind “the lion of the desert”,Omar Al Mokhtar, who fought off the Italian occupier, earning himself a place in not only in the collective Libyan memory, but also the Arab one.
Thus, it is time for Serraj,Haftar, Mechri, Aguila, and Bachagha to revisit their history and candidly ask themselves the following question: “What will we bequeath to future generations, and how will we be remembered?”
Libya’s future and fate rest in the hands of the Libyan people, who should remain wary of those initiatives undertaken so far, including the Berlin Conference, as all of these proposals represent the interests of their advocates alone.
The only genuine agreement to date that could lead to a real inter-Libyan dialogue is that of the “Skhirat Agreement”, which was signed by the main Libyan protagonists December 17th 2015 in Morocco, and unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. In light of the evolution of the Libyan situation since 2015, there is a unanimous consensus among conflict resolution specialists asserting that Skhirat still represents the only viable solution for the Libyan issue, notwithstanding the need for amending it in order to make out of it the mechanism for resolving the conflict.
The Berlin Conference of January 2020, in this regard, should seek to emulate such recommendations, given the deliberate efforts of its organisers to abstain from the use of the phrase “Skhirat Agreement”, although they were compelled to use it as a source of inspiration, in the absence of a better alternative. They chose, therefore, to refer to it as the “Libyan Political Agreement”.
In fact, for international relations specialists, the spirit of Skhirat has actually guided the elaboration of the Berlin conference’s concluding clauses, and thus many points of the Conference have alluded to existing ones in Skhirat. For instance, the 7th paragraph of the Berlin conference clearly refers to the agreement without explicitly mentioning it.
Also, clauses 9 and 13, respectively tackling the issues of security arrangements, the dismantlement of militias and the fight against armed terrorist groups, display similarities to article 34 from Skhirat. Furthermore, paragraph 25 underlines the fact that Skhirat is a practical and viable framework for the political resolution, although without openly mentioning it.
In addition the reference of the article 64 of Skhirat, related to the Libyan political Dialogue is mentioned only in the annex section of the final statement of the conference. This syntactic arrangement tells us a lot about the real intentions of advocates of this process concerning the political dialogue between Libyan counterparts.
In this regard, it can be argued that the Berlin conference’s conclusions denote a lack of objectivity, resulting from its ambiguous attitude towards Skhirat, which psychology experts could probably qualify as a fluctuation between aversion and admiration. As for content and discourse analysts, they would easily conclude that the syntactic structure of the Berlin document betrays the semantic logic of its authors, given the various interspersed mentions of Skhirat in the conclusions. Following this logic, the Berlin Conference undermines the spirit of Skhirat, and thus its credibility, centred on an independent inter-Libyan dialogue.
In light of these observations, it is actually relevant to question whether the architects of the Berlin initiative truly intended to establish a genuine Libyan dialogue. Hence, should it be surprising if no such dialogue has taken place since 2015? Delving deeper into the analysis, it becomes apparent that the pseudo-negotiations between Libyans are carried out by proxies and between sponsors of rival factions. It then becomes legitimate to blow the whistle and to warn Libyans against adhering to secessionist projects targeting their Country. It is about time for the Libyans to opt for solidarity and to take matters into their own hands through negotiations, putting aside their personal grievances and sensitivities and adopting a more constructive approach for the future of their nation and their children.
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