The Forum of the Social Components of the Cyrenaica region, which was held in Suluq on June 12, posed a real challenge to Haftar’s authority over the region.
His portraits were not raised in the vicinity of the forum, nor was he or his army mentioned in words or the final statement, and this is happening for the first time since he imposed himself and his family by force and terror.
It was customary in such gatherings to be hailed by expressions of praise and loyalty in all statements issued by any gathering or forum.
For Haftar, this matter goes beyond a mere challenge to an existential threat, for the forum called on people to take to the streets and demonstrate, and announce an integrated programme that begins with inciting people to take to streets to:
(a) protest the bad conditions, and to call for elections, leading to complete disobedience and paralyzing the state, and
(b) arranging to hold the second forum in Tripoli, to demolish all barriers between the east and west of the country, without Haftar having a role or supervision over this movement.
This means that Haftar’s authority is cracking, so he moved quickly, calling for a counter forum, to heal this rift, and send a message at home and abroad to the effect that his authority is still solid, and that the loyalty of the people to him did not change, and those who went out in public in Suluq have no grassroots.
As expected that the counter-meeting witnessed a double dose of expressions of glorification, during the speeches of some personalities, and the Suluq Forum was vilified and underestimated, and its organizers were described as having no social value, which is of course not true, as no one dares to go out in a public forum with demands contrary to Haftar direction, except those with strong tribal incubator on which they could rely.
hafter’s entourage tried to abort the forum by clamping down on its organizers, cutting off electricity and communications, and preventing them from erecting the large tent near the tomb of Omar al-Mukhtar.
This is the most that they can do, as any repressive measures may ignite a large wave of protests, and no one guarantees that it will not turn into an all-out uprising.
When Haftar began to weave his recent alliances, and received some of the leaders of Misrata. It was expected that a deep rift would occur in the alliances of the western region, leading to a state of conflict to exhaust everyone, and Haftar and his party in Parliament would achieve more points in the political confrontation.
As the conflict is still largely in a state of equilibrium and the picture in the West is a direct reflection of what is happening in the East, and vice versa, so the seed of division planted by Haftar and Aqila in the West, did not grow according to their hopes and bear fruit.
Indeed, it will grow at the same level in the east of the country after Suluq’s statement, as the division is no longer only vertical, but has become horizontal, and gradually the regional dimension of the conflict will recede.
Suluq’s statement clearly called for the unity of the homeland, and these calls were echoed strongly in the western region, which will strengthen the rapprochement between all those who demand an end to the division, and unite behind a common demand.
The common demand is the overthrow of all current entities, the holding of elections, and isolating those who work and seek to continue the division and disintegration.
Therefore, alignment becomes evident between a majority that supports change and rejects the extension, and a minority that seeks to preserve its privileges, by working to continue the state of disintegration, division and instability.
Another expected date, in coming days, will increase Haftar’s weakness, and put him before another challenge that cannot be hindered, which is to uphold the Northern Virginia Court’s ruling convicting Haftar of war crimes, and that the victims be compensated.
One of the first fruits of this ruling, if it is issued, is the confirmation of Haftar’s possession of a US citizenship, which means that he will not have the chance to run for elections, and the isolation that will be imposed on him internationally, as it will be difficult for international officials to visit or receive him publicly.
And that the ruling, if issued, will open the way for filing criminal cases, as a ruling in a civil case will enhance the chances of a criminal conviction, and in view of all these possible developments, the options for his camp are narrowing.
The unusual tone of Haftar recent speeches about his desire for peace, and siding with the people’s choices, may not help him regain his old influence, or improve his tarnished image as a warlord who had the largest share in the spread of violence and terror.
All these slow developments so far may accelerate in the coming days and weeks, due to:
(a) the end of the Tunis-Geneva Roadmap term,
(b) the developments of the international conflict in Ukraine,
(c) the rise in oil prices,
(d) the tension in the South China Sea around Taiwan, and
(e) the upcoming US-Gulf alliance against Iran.
The Western countries will not leave this vast area rich in energy resources, in their southern flank, available to opponents who are good at expanding in all spaces.
The pivotal events in history have thought us the fall of many heads that were unable to adapt to major developments, and who could not succeed in passing the tests of new stages.
Is the end of this bloody chapter in Libya approaching?
Abdullah Alkabir, a Libyan political writer and commentator