Why all eyes should be on Libya right now
U.N. Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon seems to finally have woken up and smelled the toxic brew in Tripoli
The situation in Libya seems to be entering yet another new chapter. There appears to be movement by the international community, and specifically the United Nations, to actually recognize the legitimacy of the Tobruk House of Representatives (HoR) boosted by personnel changes and shifting alliances amongst the extremists in Tripoli. This new chapter may be decisive.
U.N. Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon seems to finally have woken up and smelled the toxic brew in Tripoli. Last week’s announcement of a draft agreement where all power would reside with the Tobruk government sent Tripoli into a tizzy.
Nevertheless, he seems comfortable now with the reality that Libya needs to be fixed now. Leon stated that “Violence inside Libya was impacting the region in myriad ways: “death in the Mediterranean Sea, hundreds of migrants traveling to south Italy and other countries, the killing in the south of the country of 30 Ethiopian Christian by ISIS, together with other crimes and attacks by ISIS as ones happened recently on some embassies in Tripoli.” Arab officials told me that these events were wake-up calls to Leon about the urgency of the situation and that dealing with extremists in Tripoli only begets violence. Overall, the U.N. agreement is about 80 percent complete. With ongoing rounds of talks, there may be a sudden announcement.
True colors of the Tripoli government
Meantime, the Tripoli government is going through convulsions. Over a month ago, the Prime Minister of the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC), Omar al-Hassi, was fired following allegations he misled the illegal parliament about government finances. No real reason was ever given for his dismissal but Arab officials claim that al-Hassi was involved in a power struggle after the Tobruk government successfully strangled economically the Tripoli government. Let’s remember that on December 19, 2014 that the GNC appointed Omar al-Hassi as prime minister and formed the so called and unelected and self-appointed, National Salvation Government (NSG).
U.N. Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon seems to finally have woken up and smelled the toxic brew in TripoliDr. Theodore Karasik
A new Prime Minister Khalifa al-Ghwell, a reported member of the Muslim Brotherhood, seized control, Bolshevik-style. Al-Ghwell did two immediate acts: First, he began to use the platform of the NSG, appointed by the Dawn Coalition, for conducting his illegal diplomacy. Second, the false prime minister immediately started to reach out to the United States to hire a specific public relation firms and Private Military Security Companies (PMSCs) in Washington D.C. that appear to be backed by republicans. Yes, you read that right, the Muslim Brotherhood from Libya is being supported by a small group of American conservatives. Doh, Homer Simpson.
All the above activity is showing yet once again the true color of the Tripoli government. But there is more: Tripoli’s support for Ansar Al Sharia, a U.S. designated terrorist organization, is well known to Arab officials but seemingly not to American firms. In addition, Ansar just released a new edition of its magazine which is a direct rip off of ISIS’s flashy Dabiq magazine that contains the same ideology with the same infowar tactics. Apparently the reaction of Tripoli sympathizers is telling: “Ansar are in the right, Libya shouldn't be governed by Western/Christian ‘scum’. And they have their God on their side but Islam will take over the world”. According to the magazine, Ansar calls Libya “its Ummah” and advocates the boundary-less, one nation philosophy.
In the meantime, General Khalifa Haftar is continuing to push forward. Operation Dignity is continuing its assertive campaign. With support from Egypt and Jordan, General Haftar is making impressive gains with more equipment, including tanks, on the way. Most importantly, the military tactics employed by Operation Dignity is forcing a split in the Libya Dawn movement. The Zintan forces are clearly aligned with Tobruk now and the Misratans are looking for a way to disengage from their alliance with Tripoli. In addition, the arming of the Warfalla and Tebu tribes is paying off.
That Libyan tribes are critical to the current turning point in Libya is without doubt. In Egypt, a new foundation is being launched to tackle the absence of justice in Libya, as lawlessness leaves crimes unpunished and threatens future peace.
Last year, I wrote that by mid-2015, the situation will be for a new government taking shape with the legally elected and internationally recognized Tobruk Prime Minister Abdullah Al Thinni at the helm. With what seems to be backing now by the U.N. Special Envoy Leon for Tobruk, and the increasingly fractured state of the Tripoli government, the next phase of Libya’s revolution may be realized without the dreaded Islamist extremists claiming power; instead they are clinging to a fractured dream and ironically getting the backing of a hodgepodge group of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Clearly, Al Thinni and General Haftar have had the luxury of being able to plan, implement, and possess the “War of Will” while Tripoli’s religio-political alliance flounders around and fragments.
Dr. Theodore Karasik is a Gulf-based analyst of regional geo-political affairs. He received his Ph.D in History from UCLA in Los Angeles, California in four fields: Middle East, Russia, Caucasus, and a specialized sub-field in Cultural Anthropology focusing on tribes and clans.