Future of Libya Is in the Hands of the Libyans: Futility of the Outside Interference

20.02.2018

The fate of Libya, which, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, turned into a "black hole" after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, was discussed during the fifth session of the Valdai Club conference, titled "Russia in the Middle East: Playing on all fields."

Participants in the session stated that the events in Libya after the overthrow of Gaddafi weakened the already fragile state institutions, and their reinforcement is a long-term task. In the near future, it is necessary to achieve recognition from all parties of a unified political framework and to complete the transition period. However, attempts to exert pressure on the Libyan people from outside will not be successful.

According to Deborah Jones, the US Ambassador to Kuwait (2008-2011) and Libya (2013-2015), the problem the unfunctional institutions exists in Libya since independence after the Second World War. However, if there was a central government with Gaddafi, who had a monopoly on control over the territory and the use of violence, now this control is fragmented.

Can the country regain unity? Deborah Jones believes that the Libyans can unite around the national idea based on the well-being using natural resources and economic ties with the outside world through the Mediterranean ports. At the same time, according to the former ambassador, although today the word "federalism" sounds in Libya as anathema, it is necessary to expand authority on the ground.

Libya will remain a rentier state, agrees with Deborah Jones Romain Grandjean, Director, Near East and North Africa, Center for Humanitarian Dialogue. This means the establishment of a unified system of taxation, which, undoubtedly, will be one of the most difficult tasks for the restoration of the unity of the country. To other difficulties he attributed control over the distribution of natural resources, the re-establishment of the national army and the management of migration flows.

Anwar Darkazally, Director of Political Affairs, United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), identified two groups of goals for settlement in Libya: "tough" option - the convening of a national conference and holding elections, and "soft" option - mutual recognition of the parties and their obligation to observe unified political framework. The elections, he stressed, are not a goal in themselves, they must end the transitional period.

In 2015, in the Moroccan city of Skhirat, an agreement was signed between the opposing sides of the Libyan conflict, which currently forms the basis to resolve the crisis. According to Lev Dengov, Head of the Russian Contact Group for intra-Libyan Settlement, despite the fact that it never entered into force, there were no serious clashes in Libya, that indicates the willingness of the Libyan people for a peaceful settlement.

According to Dengov, the situation in Libya is fundamentally different from the conflicts in Syria or Yemen. First, Libya is one of the richest countries in the world in hydrocarbon reserves, and confrontation in this country is primarily for resources. Second, the armed conflict there is relatively moderate and the phenomenon of localization of actors is characteristic. The Libyan people are ready to organize themselves in response to external threats, Dengov said.

Answering the question about why it was necessary to liquidate the Gaddafi regime, which provided a certain stability, Dengov pointed out that it would be wrong to idealize his rule. According to him, there are different views on how effective the Gaddafi regime was for the population. Recalling that for 42 years of his reign in in Tripoli was built only one hospital and one university, Dengov said that Gaddafi could do much more for the Libyan people. And, although Russia does not agree with the foreign intervention, the overthrow of his regime is primarily a matter of the Libyans themselves.

Romain Grandjean reminded about various assessments of the 2011 intervention in the West and in Russia. Referring to the recent recognition by the French President Emmanuel Macron that this intervention was not the most wise step, Grandjean expressed hope that such a reassessment could be a sign of a greater willingness for dialogue of the international community.

As for Russia's participation in the settlement of the intra-Libyan conflict, its basis is an equally close position to all parties, he said. It is obvious that the Libyans will not allow foreign players to enter their country and it is impossible for them to impose any settlement from the outside.

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