By Souad Sbai
We have all always been in favor of a political solution to the crisis and to the internal fractures that have arisen in Libya after Gaddafi’s fall. However, eight years have passed and the long-awaited national reconciliation has not taken place, despite diplomatic efforts by the United Nations. At this point, with the offensive on Tripoli of General Khalifa Haftar’s army in progress, we must ask: why?
The reason bears is the name of the political factions and the armed militias that are the expression of the Muslim Brotherhood that hold the capital hostage. In particular, members of the Muslim Brotherhood, in addition to being leaders of the militia, hold important positions within the internationally recognized government led by Fayez al-Sarraj, preventing him from reaching an agreement to share power with Haftar. Among them, the powerful Minister of the Interior, Fathi Bashagha.
Last year, al-Sarraj and Haftar met on several occasions: in France, in Italy and in the United Arab Emirates. There was also a thick diplomacy behind the scenes to make Sarraj and Haftar reach an agreement. But on this agreement there is the veto of the Muslim Brotherhood and its international sponsors, that is, the Islamist alliance between Qatar and Erdogan’s Turkey.
It is possible that Haftar did not want to wait for a new conference organized by the UN – the one scheduled in Gadames, Libya, from 14 to 16 April – because like the others, it would not have produced any results. Therefore, his attack seems to be a sign of breaking with a process that has already proved to be completely bankrupt and that continues to offer the Muslim Brotherhood the opportunity to negatively influence al-Sarraj and the government.
Therefore, the root of the problem is not Haftar but the Muslim Brotherhood, the only real obstacle to the stabilization of the country, and the solution is to remove them from the Libyan scenario: national reconciliation would take place a minute later. The Muslim Brotherhood was instead legitimized as interlocutor, also from Italy, and they were allowed to enter Sarraj’s government, elected by the United Nations but not by the Libyan people.
Perhaps it was hoped that the Muslim Brotherhood could cooperate and accept a political solution. Haftar’s advance to Tripoli clearly tells us that it was a vain hope. Continuing to invoke a political solution to the conflict makes sense only if the United Nations are able to push back the Muslim Brotherhood, so that Haftar’s advance will turn into an opportunity to achieve true national reconciliation and the resolution of the crisis, by paving the way to celebrate the elections.
However, for this reason the UN must address the emirs of Doha and the “lame” Sultan of Ankara and Istanbul. After the effective exit of Qatar from the Arab League at the summit celebrated in Tunis and Erdogan’s electoral defeat in Turkey’s two most important cities, it is expected that the reaction of the rogue states that support the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya will be negative. In order not to show their weakness, they will try to keep Tripoli in the palm of their hand until the end, later attributing to Haftar the eventual costs in humanitarian terms. What is the political solution? What exactly was the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, referring to on April 3 when he spoke in Doha about an agreement between Italy and Qatar on the stability of North Africa and Libya in particular? Will continue to focus on the Muslim Brotherhood in Tripoli?
A policy that continues to lack foresight and that runs the risk of pushing Italy more and more into the condition of isolation lived by Turkey and Qatar, given that, beyond the statements of circumstance, the United States and France do not seem to have objected to the military solution relaunched by Haftar. Rather, it should be Sarraj to open the gates of the capital to free Tripoli from the Muslim Brotherhood.