By Mauro Indelicato
Libya in 2020 at some point in the enterprise has managed to not only have more governments and institutions, but also two resigning prime minister in office simultaneously.
In Tripoli in September Fayez Al Sarraj announced his intention to pull the plug on the executive he headed.
In Al Beyda, a city in Cyrenaica, Al Thani in the summer, in the wake of popular protests, declared that he was leaving the leadership of the government near the Tobruck parliament (but not recognized by the UN).
Situations today partially recovered.
Al Sarraj is still in place, in Cyrenaica the presence or absence of the Al Beyda government appears almost a detail of political life.
However, in recent months the political and diplomatic negotiations aimed at giving a unitary government to the country could lead to profound changes. And the race for the most relevant places has just begun.
Derby measurable on the horizon?
Not yet when, or on what occasion, the only certain thing that emerged in the meetings held under the auspices of the United Nations in the second half of 2020 is that Libya will have a new presidential council.
In place of the current one composed of nine members and appointed at the Skhirat summitof 2015, a new body should take office consisting of three members, one for each of the historical regions of Libya (Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan).
Another difference with the current situation will in all probability be the separation of the figure of the president of the presidential council from that of the premier.
Al Sarraj has been both head of the executive and number one of the presidential council since 2016. The problem, not a small one, is to understand who will take on these positions.
Undoubtedly the most coveted chair is that of the premier. The head of the presidential council could in fact have a mere representative role, the most important will be the leadership of the executive.
The prime minister’s seat could go to a Misrata leader. The city-state is the most influential in the Libyan political context. From here come the most important GNA militias, the acronym that brings together all the forces in support of the government of al Sarraj, as well as the most important politicians of Tripolitania from here.
Among these, two are currently the most active: on the one hand the current Minister of the Interior Fathi Bashaga, on the other the current vice president of the presidential council, Ahmed Maitig. Both are trying to be accredited as figures capable of ferrying Libya.
Bashaga is very close to Turkey, Tripoli’s main sponsor, but in recent days he went to Egypt for a first historic visit to a country that has always been considered close to General Haftar.
Between October and November, as Interior Minister, he launched a campaign to arrest the most dangerous militia leaders, including the powerful trafficker Bija. For Baghaga it seems essential to be accredited as a man capable of restoring order in Libya.
Maitig for his part is trying to pass as a man of dialogue. It was he, not surprisingly, who met Haftar himself or men close to him to unlock the story relating to the blocking of oil exports decreed by the general in January.
Bashaga and Maitig are playing their cards. However, especially in today’s Libya, a certain political activism does not necessarily have a mortgage on appointments.
Who will control Libya?
Between the two quarrels, one of the most popular sayings (and well known also in Libya) recites, the third enjoys. The Misano derby could lead to the emergence of other figures that are more conciliatory or seen as more neutral.
The real problem is that, since there is no single figure capable of dragging the country towards reunification, it is necessary to find difficult and complicated mediations capable of bringing together both internal balances and those dictated by foreign powers.
A game of crossed vetoes and mutual mistrust that can further block efforts in view of a future government. The figure of Mustafah Sanallah could emerge among the Sahara sandstorms blowing over Tripoli, current leader of NOC, the oil company.
For Libyans, his name is a real guarantee: as written on InsideOver by Alessandro Scipione, Sanallah is “clean” and has proved his efficiency by managing to keep the company that keeps the Libyan economy afloat together.
But keeping the country together is an even more difficult undertaking. Sanallah knows this and is unlikely to take political roles.
The name of Saif Al-Gaddafi , the political heir of the dictator, may also come out. But precisely by virtue of the surname he bears, it is not certain that he can be seen as a unitary figure.
The unknowns and puzzles remain, as Libya is about to enter its tenth year of war. On the field, LNA and GNA strengthen their positions.
Meanwhile, while politics is struggling to close the circle, there is concern on the military front again. Local sources told AgenziaNova about movements of Haftar’s army vehicles and men from Benghazi to Sirte.
The city, in the hands of Haftar since January 6, 2020, is on the border between the territories controlled by the general and those in the hands of the GNA.
The suspicion is of a strengthening of the preparatory front for new clashes. Also because in the meantime, on the other side of the fence, cargo flights from Turkey to the military base of Al Watiya continue, used by the Turks as a headquarters.
Also in this case there is strong suspicion of an arms race capable of rekindling the clashes after the ceasefire signed in August.