The French State officially recognizes the government of national unity (GUN) which sits in Tripoli, practicing a double game diplomacy. While establishing good relations with the GUN, recognized by the international community, the head of the Quai d’Orsay brings a unlimited support for the military leader of Cyrenaica, Marshal Haftar.
The latter, tried on April 04, 2019 to seize the capital through a massive military operation which came up against heroic resistance from the Tripolitans. Despite the support of the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Russia, France, Saudi Arabia, Haftar’s “decisive battle” suffered a clear failure. Haftar’s character thus becomes more cumbersome than ever, including for his allies. He notes that the marshal is not an element in the outcome of the crisis but a major obstacle.
The European and American initiatives for a political solution to the war in Libya have stalled in the face of the intransigence of the Tripolitan belligerents. The political process initiated by the American diplomat Stéphanie Williams was not respected by the protagonists of the Libyan crisis.
The presidential and legislative elections did not take place, as planned in December 2021, the Berlin agreements. The candidacy of the marshal, who exchanged his military uniform for a civilian tie suit for the duration of the election, did not create the expected climate of trust.
France at work
According to a source close to the Libyan presidency, a delegation made up of 11 people, representing Fezzan, are currently in France to lead a conference whose main theme is the proposal for a federation of three, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan. . The conference coordinator is none other than Ali Zidane, who is close to French interests in Libya. He is supported by Mansour Seif Al Nasr, former Libyan ambassador to France.
This is a new offer on which the two entities of the GUN (government of national unity) in Tripoli and the ANL (Libyan national army) led by Marshal Haftar in Benghazi have not yet commented on the approach.
Has the new French initiative had the approval of European and American partners?
What would be the position of Russia and Turkey towards this French maneuver. Have the regional partners (Egypt, Algeria) given their approval?
Questions remain hanging over the reaction of a set of regional and international powers as long as the need to introduce Libyan oil on the world market becomes a major issue.
While world public opinion has its eyes fixed on the war in Ukraine; France is eyeing a risky solution in Libya which is not unanimous, neither inside nor outside the country. Putin’s Russia was not associated with this project nor Erdogan’s Turkey, which remain militarily engaged states in Libya.
Fezzan and France: the weight of history
France has always had designs on the Fezzan that she wanted to integrate it into her colonial empire in Africa. France’s dream of incorporating this immense Saharan territory occupied by the troops of General Leclerc in 1942 that the peace treaty with Italy of February 10, 1947 (France, United Kingdom, USSR, United States) obliges it to recognize the integration of Fezzan into the new independent and sovereign state alongside Tripolitania and Cyrenaica on December 24, 1951.
The new state took the name “United Kingdom of Libya” led by King Mohamed Idriss El Mahdi El Snoussi. The three territories making up Libya “Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, Fezzan” were administered by the British and French authorities who transferred their powers to the new independent government. However, France has kept a certain influence which is deployed through the Franco-Libyan agreements of August 10, 1955. Development projects and underground exploitations for a period of twenty years.
In return, France undertook to withdraw its troops from Fezzan for their deployment in Chad. Gaddafi’s 1969 coup ended France’s ambitions in the Fezzan.