The Libya CaseMarch 11, 2017
Executive Summary February 2017
It could be said that February 2017 in Libya is the month of the beginning of “shuffling of cards”. In fact, since the outbreak of operations "Dignity" and "Libya Dawn", the stalled political process has not known a broad downturn until the General Commander of the parliament-affiliated army, Marshal "Khalifa Haftar" rejected the request of the Egyptian ally to meet with the Presidential Council Chairman, "Fayez Sarraj". Both officials showed up, while "Haftar" was accompanied by the Chairman of the House of Representatives “Agila Saleh”. Cairo sought to bring together the three officials as an attempt to crown its diplomatic efforts. For months, the Egyptian diplomacy worked to communicate with most of the political and regional spectrum which is politically and militarily conflicting.
Marshal Haftar's rejection sparked astonishment to the point that we heard critical views from the heart of "Barga" (Cyrenaica) and in the corridors of the House of Representatives of what they described as intransigence. Supporters warned that the intransigence of "Haftar" will slide the country into a civil war which we could predict how it will begin; However, it is not easy to predict how it will end.
Amid the shuffling of cards, we note the atrophy of power structures emanating from the Political Agreement represented in the Presidential Council, which is undergoing a chronic internal dispute, and the Government of National Accord (GNA), which has not yet been granted the confidence of MPs. GNA was unable to liquidate funds from the Central Bank of Libya as planned during the meetings of London, Rome, and Tunis about the 2017 budget. Another entity emanated from the Political Agreement is the High Council of State which is still convening outside of its first headquarter.
The atrophy of the Political Agreement was faced in February by a broader presence of Khalifa Ghwell's Government of National Salvation which continued to control a number of Ministry headquarters. On the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the 17th of February Revolution, the National Salvation Government celebrated in the VIP Hall at "Tripoli International Airport” and announced, from "Tripoli," the establishment of a national guard which is supported by the Mufti "Sadiq Al- Ghariani" and a number of armed formations amongst which is the "Benghazi" Defense Brigades.
The Political Agreement, as a whole, did not undergo any practical change besides the proposals adopted by the neighboring countries, African Union, Arab League, and the UN mission in Libya. These proposals gained the support of major powers officials from Russia, the United States, and Europe, who are concerned with the Libyan affairs. Their support was focused on the need to amend the form and line-up of the Presidential Council and find a suitable position for "Haftar" in the political process without outweighing other opponents.
The situation of the four legislative authorities represented in the House of Representatives, Council of State, General National Congress, and the Constitutional Drafting Assembly is a reflection of the political collision. In fact, the House of Representatives did not succeed in even reforming its Political Dialogue Committee, which made the talks about granting confidence to the National Accord Government a long-distant hope. The Council of State did not manage to exercise broader legislative prerogatives despite its declaration on this regard released at the end of 2016. The General National Congress (GNC), with its few members, continues to support the Ghwell's government. Meanwhile, it is expanding its alliance with Fatwa Council (Dar al-Ifta). The Committee of Sixty members did not reach a consensus to take the Committee out of the bottleneck it entered due to boycotting deputies from the west, cultural components, and the sessions held in Sultanate of Oman.
Confrontations and war have also impacted the performance of the three National Accord, Salvation, and Interim governments, despite of the attempts of Salvation and Interim governments to establish an understanding that could weaken or overthrow the National Accord government, according to what was understood from the statement given by the Prime Minister of the Salvation government "Khalifa Ghwell" in February. This resulted in the continued inability of the three governments to improve the overall services offered to society. In fact, basic services such as electricity, water, health care, and education are still facing serious difficulties. Such conditions are affecting the livelihood of people, not only in the suburbs and outskirts, but also in the urban areas, including "Tripoli" where the headquarters of two governments are located. Besides, the stifling liquidity crisis and the inability of State to control the exchange rate of Libyan Dinar against the Dollar have directly impacted the prices of basic commodities.
In February, the suffering of the municipal councils continued. They are plagued by problems related to the scarcity of resources, low liquidity transferred from the various governments, and other several crises. Amidst the lack of capacities, some councils are facing the problem of smuggling and the increasing flow of illegal immigration every day. Some councils reached the point of contacting some western capitals such as Rome seeking ways to reduce the immigration waves. Yet, the municipal councils are making their utmost to serve the population within their administrative scopes. They sometimes manage to cooperate with Libyan and foreign relief organizations and they strive to maintain the continuity of the education process, as well as providing the necessary health services.
Families from "Sirte" continued their way back to their areas in coordination with the municipal council of "Sirte" and officials in the "Al-Bonyan Al-Marsous" Forces who are carrying on their efforts in securing the city, demining, and collecting bodies.
This is how February drew two separate scenes in Libya. The first one combined dispute and fighting due to conflict over power, or at times for regionalism or ideologically-related reasons. The second scene, which may not be noticed by many, compiled the continuous efforts of municipal councils, several local associations, and local dignitary councils which have led to the continuation of life and healing the social rifts.