Salem AlKetbi: Libya’s bizarre political landscape


In the midst of the tumultuous Arab landscape, and notwithstanding the Sudan crisi that takes center stage amongst all Arabs currently, the Libyan arena also emerges as noteworthy in its intricacy and the magnitude of the controversies it engenders concerning the shaping of the country’s future. This is to the point where Libya is vying with other convoluted Arab hot issues, particularly Lebanon.

In recent times, Libyan media outlets have reported that the city of Misrata hosted discussions among political figures concerning the establishment of a “third” Libyan government tasked with overseeing the country’s affairs and facilitating the path towards elections.

According to the reports, the efforts towards the formation of a third government that unites factions and spearheads the endeavor of ensuring fair elections constitute a favorable step that bolsters the prospects of resolving the impasse between the current two rival governments in the nation.

The establishment of a third government serves as a reminder of Third Way politics that gained traction at the turn of the century, as a moderate solution to deviate from conventional approaches in politics and economics.

READ: US competes with Italy to offer Libya empty words

Nevertheless, in Libya, the matter lacks any ideological foundation as seen in Western doctrines, and appears to be a moderate remedy in the event that the leaders of the present two administrations nominate themselves for the upcoming presidential race in Libya.

However, these proposals remain theoretical notions that are arduous to actualize, for a fundamental reason that the disputes do not revolve around institutional mechanisms, but rather around conflicts of interests and influence, both political and economic. Consequently, it is challenging for any party to relinquish their interests in favor of resorting to the ballot boxes.

The prospect of the Eastern and Western Libyan administrations convening in Misrata, the city from which Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, the leader of the unity government, and Fathi Bashagha, the head of the parliament-appointed administration controlling the southern and eastern regions of the nation, hails from, appears challenging.





It is hard to picture the political rivals in Libya surrendering their present standing to contest in the presidential elections. The evidence available since the onset of the Libyan crisis highlights the intricacy of attaining concord between the current two governments.

The sole means of resolution could be achieved via a regional and global consensus on the conduct of elections in Libya, not merely concluding them hastily. Such consensus would likely coerce the parties to make crucial compromises to preserve their prospects in any plausible political undertaking.

In the absence of this, it is arduous to affirm that there exists anything that could oblige the two factions to adopt the notion of a third way or third government. The preceding deduction is not pessimistic, but rather a manifestation of reality, which became conspicuous on the first day of Eid Al Fitr, where the political schism was evidenced in the sighting of the crescent moon.

The intersection of religion and politics resulted in a tumultuous scene. The eastern region commemorated Eid on Friday, while the western region marked it on Saturday. This strange divide in Libya and among its people added to the already peculiar occurrences in the Libyan and Arab scene.

The reality is that the crisis in Libya, akin to other Arab crises, is not exclusively about elections. The conflicts stemming from interests will persist even if any possible election results emerge. Amidst division, skepticism, and collusion, it is hard for any party to accept the election results as they are.

Hence, regional and international consensus is much needed, as are robust collective endeavors, to reunify, reconcile, and provide the necessary regional and international backing for any internally agreed roadmap. It is quite challenging for outsiders to fathom the complexities and intricacies of the Libyan domestic situation, especially the tribal and political dynamics.

The trust deficit among parties in Libya and other Arab crisis zones poses a tricky problem, and is likely to persist even if elections are conducted with meticulous rules and standards. The trust crisis has seeped into Libyan society, now divided territoriality and tribally like never before, with each faction having its own interests and visions for the future.

However, a possible solution could come up from a unified and resolute regional will that agrees on a roadmap for Libya’s future, coupled with comprehensive support for its implementation.

But before all that, there needs to be a concerted effort to rid the country of the chaos of militias and the proliferation of weapons across its regions, a daunting task that can only be achieved with the international partners’ ability to tackle it in the desired manner.

The presence of weapons in the hands of any party or parties will continue to pose a major threat to any peace process or future elections, regardless of their transparency or the integrity of the procedures followed.

The author is an UAE political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate


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