Bilal Abdullah

Crown Prince’s Initiatives

Over the past few months, as documented on Crown Prince al-Senussi’s official account on the X platform, he has undertaken a comprehensive campaign advocating for the reinstatement of the monarchy as a resolution to Libya’s political crisis. Al-Senussi has interviewed notable figures, intellectuals, and community leaders from various Libyan regions, including Benghazi, al-Bayda, Derna, Misrata, and Tripoli. These engagements also included meetings with the High State Council members and trade union leaders.

Notably, al-Senussi launched the fourth round of community consultations on January 26, focusing on discussions with social and academic figures from the western region, followed by a meeting with a delegation representing the Amazigh community. The extensive geographical coverage and diverse participants in al-Senussi’s meetings [1] from October 2023 to January 2024 suggest a concerted effort toward a significant political initiative. Al-Senussi’s media discourse underscores his commitment to restoring the constitutional monarchy,[2] positioning himself as a symbolic leader capable of transcending the power struggle in the country. Such a strategy aims to legitimize internal power dynamics between the eastern and western regions, leveraging the king’s limited authority, which may closely resemble the current Presidential Council.

The significance of this path lies more in the political vision it represents rather than in the actual political or organizational influence of the royal family, which has been primarily dissolved since the onset of Qaddafi’s regime. However, from a theoretical perspective, the political project associated with the monarchy carries symbolic and historical weight, particularly about establishing Libya’s independent state, echoing the challenges the country faces in its state-building process.

The 1951 Independence Constitution is a potential solution to Libya’s state-building dilemma, given its alignment with the geopolitical nature of federalism. Sociologically, the tribes of Cyrenaica historically formed the monarchy’s support base, with the royal family’s ties to the Senussi movement adding a religious dimension to their influence within Libyan society.

This historical association can be leveraged for propaganda purposes in advancing the monarchy restoration project, especially considering the emergence of various movements advocating for this cause in recent years. 

These movements reflect a tangible social and material foundation that could be further developed. The success of this project hinges on several factors, including the alignment of societal and political support, the symbolic leadership embodied by the crown prince – whose actions appear to lack coordination with past movements in Libya – and the backing of an external actor willing to invest in its realization.

Regarding the supporters of Senussi’s initiatives, there are no official stances. However, the online newspaper Libya Press is propagating the notion that the monarchy restoration proposal is a Jordanian initiative backed by Qatar and Britain,[3] with Debiba purportedly being among the leading advocates internally in exchange for maintaining his leadership of the government. It is noteworthy how Senussi conducted these meetings with relative ease, predominantly in cities in eastern Libya, without encountering significant hindrances from pro-Haftar authorities. This is unusual given their tendency to control activities related to competing political projects within their jurisdiction.

If Senussi conducted these meetings in eastern Libya, there are several potential explanations for Haftar’s tacit approval.

Firstly, external protection may shield Senussi’s movements, making it challenging for Haftar to impede him;

Secondly, Haftar could be involved in a broader agreement tied to Senussi’s activities, securing his authority over eastern Libya in the event of a monarchy restoration.

Thirdly, as Marshal Haftar ages, there is a shift in his priorities, particularly regarding succession planning in the event of his death or serious illness.[4]

This situation would prompt him to seek assurances to safeguard his sons’ influence in the eastern and southern regions amid dwindling prospects of consolidating political or military control over the entire country, given prevailing international dynamics and balances.

Regarding the alignment or divergence of the Crown Prince’s movement with the primary UN-facilitated settlement process, it is noteworthy that Senussi characterizes his initiative as a “national dialogue“ operating “under the auspices of monarchy legitimacy.“

Interestingly, Senussi makes no explicit reference, either positively or negatively, to the UN mission’s efforts in facilitating the settlement process. Furthermore, Senussi’s movement appears to be non-electoral, proposing a holistic solution to the settlement dilemma without prioritizing elections, thus diverging from the fundamental approach of the UN proposal, whether represented by Bataille’s current vision or the various visions of previous envoys, all of which emphasized elections as a primary component.

This initiative is likely to intersect, to some extent, with the interests of certain factions controlling power in the country’s eastern and western regions. For these parties, restoring monarchy presents an opportunity to maintain the existing power dynamics, effectively perpetuating the status quo. Despite its apparent radicalism, this path may, in reality, reproduce existing power structures while temporarily halting the chronic conflict over leadership, offering instead a symbolic leadership capable of transcending the divisions that have plagued the nation since 2011.

The Bataille Initiative Update

After a period of waning momentum, efforts have been resurgent to revive the Bataille Initiative. In the third week of January, US envoy Richard Norland, Acting US Ambassador to Libya Jeremy Brent, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joshua Harris held meetings with Libyan key figures including Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, House of Representatives Speaker Aguila Saleh, Tripoli Government President Abdelhamid al-Debiba, President of the Presidential Council Mohammed al-Manfi, President of the State Council Mohammed Tekala, UN envoy Abdullah Bataille, and Egyptian ambassador in Tripoli Tamer Mustafa. 

These meetings, as reported by the US Embassy on the X platform, aimed to reignite momentum for the Bataille Initiative. Concurrently, Bataille resumed meetings with Libyan stakeholders during the same period to regain momentum and garner support for his initiative, following a period of relative quiet and dwindling engagement.

Notably, Bataille held a surprise meeting on January 28 with over 20 Tripoli militia leaders, who, as reported by the online newspaper Al-Marsad, demanded representation in the planned five-party institutional leaders‘ meeting or the exclusion of representation from the General Command in said meeting. [5]

On the contrary, the House of Representatives and the State Council continued their maneuvers, seeking to steer the settlement agenda toward traditional issues that reinforced the roles of the two chambers and impeded the progress of the Bataille Initiative.

On December 27, the State Council reignited discussions on sovereign positions through Takala’s meeting with the committee responsible for the file within the council and his submission of a list of the State Council’s candidates for these positions to the House of Representatives.

Then, on January 8, Takala formally addressed Saleh, informing him of the State Council’s rejection of all legislation issued by the parliament due to individual actions to perpetuate the parliament’s control over public affairs. Saleh reiterated this stance after his January 23 meeting with a US delegation led by Norland, stressing that “any attempts to open new dialogues or agreements will take us back to square one,“ implicitly rejecting Bataille’s initiative.

Simultaneously, during the US delegation’s visit, Dbeiba reiterated his opposition to the UN mission’s decision to conduct the five-year dialogue based on recognizing the electoral laws issued by the House of Representatives, insisting on creating fair electoral laws that do not exclude anyone.

Finally, the General Command’s statement following the same delegation’s meeting emphasized the need for the UN mission to make more balanced and practical efforts to realize the Libyan people’s aspirations.

All these positions and developments indicate a continued stalemate in the stances of the various parties regarding the Bataille Initiative.

While the United States insists on adhering to this agenda, the official parties to the Libyan conflict maintain their firm positions toward the initiative.

Remarkably, there are no publicly declared stances from external parties involved in the conflict, suggesting their reluctance to directly confront Washington and their preference to encourage their Libyan allies to thwart the initiative.

However, persistent American insistence and the corresponding hardening of Libyan positions will likely delay the initiative’s initiation. This delay may involve convening a preparatory meeting of representatives from the five institutional parties and subsequently organizing the five-party meeting, each of which could extend for several rounds.

Such delays may provide competing tracks, especially those associated with the Crown Prince, with more opportunities to assess the potential success of their projects or, at the very least, gauge the extent of the response from Libyan societal forces, given the current impasse in the process.


[1] While Senussi did not disclose the specific locations of the interviews, Libyan sources disclosed that most of these meetings took place in al-Bayda and Tobruk.

[2] The allusion here is to the concept of the constitutional monarchy in a general sense, without specific reference to the amended version of the 1963 constitution, which Senussi previously emphasized in his vision outlined on his website. The 1963 constitution marked the end of the federal system in Libya, and its emphasis in the past reflected a vision of a settlement that involved restoring the king’s extensive powers over all regions. However, the absence of mention during Senussi’s recent moves may suggest a different approach, aiming to accommodate existing regional balances and the interests of the main parties and their international and regional backers without assuming a central role in the governance process.

[3] Historical and personal factors bolster the hypothesis of British support for Senussi. Historically, Britain has supported the Libyan monarchy, and the royal family members, including the Crown Prince, have resided in Britain since departing Libya in the late 1980s.

[4] US diplomat Stephanie Williams, former Acting UN envoy to Libya, addressed this issue in an article by Brookings in January 2024.

[5] This condition mirrors the demands of eastern Libyan authorities, who insist on representation for Osama Hammad’s government at the meeting or the exclusion of the Dbeiba government.


Bilal Abdullah is a Researcher focusing on Libyan affairs. He has published and cooperated with several think tanks in and outside the Arab region. Abdullah is preparing for a Master’s degree from the College of African Postgraduate Studies at Cairo University, specializing in Tribalism and the Future of the State in Libya after 2011. Some of Abdullah’s published studies include “The Amazigh Movement and Dynamics of Libyan Political Life”, “The Amazigh Spring in Libya: Between Revolution Gains and Challenge of Division”, “The Democratic Transition of Power in Tunisia after the Revolution: A Study about the Role of the Tunisian General Labor Union”, and “The Political Role of A-Azhar after the Revolution: Constants and Variables”. He has a BA in Political Science from the College of Commerce at Helwan University and a Diploma in African Studies from Cairo University.


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