By Mohammed Srait
This is the interview with Dr. Miftah al-Masuri, coordinator of external relations at the Preparatory Committee for the National General comprehensive Conference (Libyan-Libyan).
He spoke to the Center for Strategic Performance on the details of reconciliation and obstacles to achieving stability in Libya through a vision of reconciliation between the forces fighting for power in Libya.
Dr. Miftah al-Masouri, was born and lives in the city of Darnah, he joined the diplomatic corps in 1975. He was promoted to political posts both internally and externally until he became ambassador in 2004 and was appointed in 1977 as the translator and special advisor on French culture to Gaddafi during his rule.
Dr. Miftah al-Masuri also obtained many scientific degrees in French philosophy, in addition to his various political specialties, which allowed him to hold positions that had brought him closer to the former regime.
In this interview, we discussed the details of the comprehensive conference of reconciliation between the Libyan components that existed until several months earlier.
Dr. Miftah al-Masouri spoke to us about the details of many of the stages that he underwent, which represent an important journey in the gathering between the Libyan parties.
Dr. Miftah al-Masuri, how do you explain to us the efforts that have been made since you decided to move forward in bringing together a number of Libyan components under one umbrella?
For the preparation of the General comprehensive Conference of (Libyan-Libyan), which continued during the first six months of 2018, our efforts are to work towards reconciliation between the Libyans.
These efforts began in turn in 2012 after the appointment of Mr. Mohamed Al-Abani at the time as coordinator of reconciliation in Libya and a member of the General National Congress.
In 2016, the General Conference for Reconciliation was announced. We conducted many lengthy consultations and discussions, which lasted for several weeks and months, and included many Libyan components.
This was through contacts with many notables, ‘tribal elders, and opinion leaders from civil society, as well as many army officers in the East and West, security officers, leaders of some armed groups and municipal mayers, along with other social components such as Amazigh, Tebu and Tuareg.
We have also divided the Libyan society into six segments to be targeted for dialogue and discussions in order to achieve a reconciliation charter.
They represent the following categories: the tribal sheikh, elders and dignitaries, leaders of civil society and public opinion, women and youth, security and police officers and armed groups.
Each of these groups has presented us with their representatives, who are responsible to them for their commitments. The representatives coordinate and communicates with us for reconciliation. All of these representatives were expected to form a preparatory committee for the overall comprehensive conference of reconciliation.
In fact, as a committee we have prepared many documents, correspondence and communications that laid the foundations of the Charter of Principles, which consists of 16 points, the most prominent of which is respect for the other and the adoption of the principle of democracy and the peaceful transfer of power.
We have also prepared a code or a charter that binds all members to what they have agreed upon after obtaining the binding consent of all members.
What time frame was supposed to start this project?
Immediately after the Eid al-Adha at the end of August, it was expected to implement the stages of the conference in the city of Benghazi to gather about 300 elders from various tribes of Libya.
This project was also supposed to be reflected on the other six segments, so that after the success of the first segment (elders and dignitaries) the same framework applies to the other segments and adopt the outputs of the agreement.
What about the role of the United Nations in this movement?
The United Nations is authorized by the Security Council to help the Libyans in order to reach a solution that ends the differences and crises in Libya. Therefore, what we count on by the United Nations is to provide us with logistical assistance only.
As members of the Conference and its sponsors, we reject any intervention by the international community. Any reject any ambassador and his meeting with any political or social component.
Can you tell us what actions have been taken to achieve reconciliation, especially since you mentioned at the outset that you started working towards reconciliation since 2012?
We contributed in solving the most important and most dangerous files obstructing the achievement of reconciliation and stability, that is the of displaced Taawrgha. We closed the distances between the parties to the dispute after many communications and contacts. And we were able to overcome many of the obstacles.
We also discussed with the people of Bani Walid and their differences about Resolution No. 7 issued by the General National Conference, which caused deep differences between the residents of Bani Walid and some cities and areas adjacent to them.
In the recent period, we have discussed the issue of the return of displaced Benghazi families in coordination with the security services.
This leads us to another question: What are the most prominent obstacles that faced you as supporters of reconciliation and facilitators of the reconciliation conference?
As the saying goes, “Head free of headache.” Yes, there are many difficulties and obstacles that we faced, and we work under the code of voluntary duty. This has caused us some logistical and material constraints, due to the mentality of some of the Libyan social components of their understanding of the depth of the dispute, its continuation, and the consequences of the great dilemma, but thank God We have been able to overcome great parts of them.
In the segment of tribes, there were some difficulties in persuading and dealing with some of the sheikhs. However, we managed to eliminate these differences. Here we are talking about forming representatives of one of the parties, meaning that even the parties to the conflict did not agree on who represents them. This deepens and reflects on the Libyan dispute as a whole.