Regional and International Consensus on Political Solution to Dismantle Extremist Groups in Libya

ThumbnailA number of members of the Libyan House of Representatives (Parliament) are preparing to visit Washington, D.C. as political and military events in Libya enter a new phase, characterized by accelerated developments, reflected in the visit of the UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salameh, to the United Arab Emirates and the United States, amid leaks about international moves to push for an urgent political solution that takes into account the military’s role in dismantling terrorist groups, including those inside Tripoli.

The international envoy’s visit coincides with a joint statement on the situation in Libya signed by six countries– the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States — expressing serious concern about the ongoing hostilities in Tripoli, calling for a cessation of hostilities and a return to the a peaceful process brokered by the United Nations.

The United Nations pushed for the six-nation joint statement to prevent foreign interference in Libya, particularly what Turkey is seeking.

Abdullah Belahiq, spokesman for the Libyan Parliament, said in a telephone conversation with Al-Arab from the Libyan city of Tobruk, that the visit reaffirms the important role played by the Libyan parliament as the only legitimate institution representing Libyans.

Belkheq did not provide further details about the visit, which is seen as a major advance in other political moves, particularly as it comes on the basis of full coordination with the Libyan army led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, in the context of the open battle against terrorism and extremists in the capital Tripoli.

However, Libyan MP Ibrahim al-Darsi did not hesitate to say that the visit “is a trend for the escalating relations between the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump and the secretary-general, Khalifa Haftar, and Trump’s support for the Libyan government in its fight against terrorism.”

Al-Darsi revealed in a telephone conversation with Al Arab from the city of Benghazi in eastern Libya, that the Libyan parliamentary delegation, which will visit Washington soon, consists of five parliamentarians from different regions of Libya, where they met earlier with Haftar in preparation for this visit, which reflects the increasing awareness of the variables that surround the Libyan landscape.

He confirmed that the Libyan parliamentary delegation will meet during its stay in the United States with a number of members of Congress to brief them on the situation in Libya and the developments of the Libyan body’s processes to retake the capital Tripoli from extremist groups in the context of the ongoing war on terrorism.

He said that the delegation will inform U.S. officials of the decision of the Libyan parliament concerning the appointment of Haftar as the leader of the army, and his mission to fight terrorism, in response to the false claims made by the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States against the Army and its leadership, and its claim that the army is outside the law.

This Libyan parliamentary move toward Washington adds new dimensions to the entirety of Libyan political and military movements, which have taken on a different context from the past, especially as it has been accompanied by increasing talk of a planned visit to Washington by Field Marshal Haftar.

Observers do not rule out that the Libyan parliamentary delegation will arrange Haftar’s visit while in Washington, especially when everyone is pushing for a political solution that enjoys regional and international support, which could include the visit of UN envoy Ghassan Salameh to the UAE.

Salameh met with UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, where the UN mission to Libya said on its official Twitter account that Salameh’s visit to Abu Dhabi is aimed at discussing with senior officials possible ways to end the fighting in Libya and return to the political process.

For its part, the UAE confirmed its keenness to ensure the role of the United Nations is a success to end the differences between the Libyan parties and put an end to the human tragedy and fight extremist groups, terrorism and armed militias and to disarm them.

This confirmation was accompanied by a joint statement on the situation in Libya signed by six countries that warned that the fighting had “exacerbated the humanitarian emergency” and worsened the migrant crisis, and stated fears that the security vacuum would strengthen extremists.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash,  said in a tweet that the “statement of the six countries on Libya represents the will of the international community, (…) reflects the priority of returning to the political track, and warns against attempts by terrorist groups to exploit the vacuum to reflect the nature of the risks, an important position for the sake of peace and stability.”

It has become clear that the international community is pushing for a political solution in Libya, but terrorist organizations and allied groups must be neutralized, which in practice, meets the vision of the Libyan army led by Haftar, who believes that entering Tripoli and clearing it of terrorism is essential to creating conditions conducive to a lasting political solution.

According to analysts, the suspension of the army from entering Tripoli is giving the efforts for a political solution, supported by Western Arab countries directly concerned with the Libyan issue, an opportunity, and that the absence of an authority in Tripoli, and the control of extremists over the Government of Reconciliation, may prolong the crisis and push the Libyan army to resolve it militarily.

This firm international position places the government of Fayez al-Sarraj in a position of great embarrassment, as it will now be required to dismantle its links with groups classified as terrorists, which is difficult, since these groups play an important role in the war, protect the Government of Reconciliation and control arms and funds allocated in the war budget.

Observers believe that any attempt at dissociation will lead to an internal war between groups allied with the Government of Reconciliation, which makes the direct intervention of the national army the safest way to confront terrorism, dismantle its groups and pave the way for a serious and secure political transition.