The head of the Libyan unity government, Abdul Hamid al-Dabaiba, came to the second Berlin conference with an initiative to solve his country’s crisis.
But he was carrying a major request to the participating countries and organizations for the success of his initiative: “Help us deter obstructionists.”
The various Libyan parties and the international community represented by the 15 countries and the four organizations participating in the Berlin conference all agree on the necessity of holding the elections on their scheduled date on December 24.
However, there are several indications that the Libyan parties will not respect this date, as there are obstructionists who are only good at putting the stick in the wheel.
Haftar and Aqila are the biggest obstructionists
In his speech at the opening of the conference on Wednesday, Dabaiba almost mentioned the obstructionists by name when he said, “Despite the progress in unifying the security establishment, there are concerns about the political process due to the presence of military forces with political dimensions.”
It is clear that this statement is a reference to retired Major General Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the eastern Libyan militia.
Which impedes the process of unifying the army, and from time to time carries outmaneuvers, military operations, and mobilization of forces.
By doing so, Haftar violated the orders of the Presidential Council, the Supreme Commander of the Army, as well as the ceasefire agreement signed on October 23, 2020.
Haftar also recently obstructed the opening of the coastal road between the east and west of the country, before succumbing to international pressure hours before the start of the second Berlin conference, for fear of being subjected to sanctions.
However, the international community is negligent and lazy in condemning Haftar’s violations of the signed agreements, and his obstruction to the unification of the military institution.
Even to hold elections, what he declares in public contradicts what he implements on the ground.
This prompted Dabaiba to remind the parties participating in the Berlin conference of their previous pledges and commitments to punish those who obstruct the political agreement.
He addressed the gathering in Berlin, saying, “Keep your commitments, be on time, and help us deter obstructionists in a clear, consultative, and convincing manner.”
But Haftar is not the only one accused in Dabaiba’s eyes of obstructing the first Berlin Agreement, but also the House of Representatives.
And without mentioning its president, Aguila Saleh (Haftar’s ally) by name, and even the Supreme Council of State in the capital, Tripoli, according to him.
Dabaiba says, “Unfortunately, there is no seriousness from the legislative bodies (the House of Representatives and the state) to proceed in this (electoral) path, and we call for reaching the constitutional basis for holding the elections on time.”
The House of Representatives refuses to release the state budget, and Aqila Saleh stipulates that the State Council headed by Khaled Al-Mashri go ahead with the agreement on the distribution of sovereign positions.
Chiefly the position of the Central Bank Governor, which is supposed to revert to the East.
While the State Council (deputy advisory) participates in completing the unification of the military institution before reaching the final stage of the distribution of sovereign positions.
The Supreme Council of State does not want to appear as a native who gives a sensitive position like the governor of the Central Bank to a Haftar loyalist.
At a time when the latter refuses to unify the military institution and subordinate its militias to the leadership of the Presidential Council, rather, its military movements reveal unreassuring intentions regarding the security and stability of the country.
The budget crisis is not the main problem, but rather the failure of the political dialogue forum sponsored by the United Nations to agree on a constitutional basis for holding elections.
While the Supreme Council of State insists on a referendum on the draft constitution, or its temporary approval by the legislative institution until elections are held.
While the parliament has not yet issued an election law on the basis of which parliamentary and possibly presidential elections will be held, and even a referendum law.
This complex and intertwined situation prompted the head of the unity government to call on the “Libyan parties concerned to stop the policy of tampering and continuous obstruction, and to stop the policy of using benefits as a hostage.”
There are only days left from the date set by the Electoral Commission on the first of next July to receive the constitutional base and the election laws so that it can commit to holding the elections on December 24.
Failure to respect the date of July 1 is a strong indication that the Libyan parties will turn December 24 into a new missed opportunity.
To save the situation, the United Nations Mission in Libya announced its intention to hold a direct meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in Switzerland from June 28 to July 1.
It is preceded by a meeting in Tunis of its legal committee between June 24th and 26th to overcome obstacles before reaching the plenary session.
Dabaiba was not alone in his demand for the House of Representatives to liberalize the state budget.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres implicitly accused Aqila Saleh of obstructing the organization of the elections, even if he did not mention him by name.
“I urge the House of Representatives to adopt the budget and provide the necessary legislation for the upcoming elections,” Guterres said in his speech to the participants in the second Berlin conference.
The failure of the House of Representatives to approve the state budget prevents the government from allocating financial and material resources to the Electoral Commission to initiate the necessary preparations.
Not to mention that the Parliament’s failure to issue election laws directly impedes their conduct.
In the eyes of the United Nations, the House of Representatives is the main obstacle to the holding of elections, despite the presence of other parties involved in this obstruction.
Western countries ignore pressure on Haftar
Western countries participating in the second Berlin conference do not seem much interested in Dabaiba’s call to help him “deter obstructionists” in the elections.
And for security stability as much as it cares about two things, removing foreign fighters and holding elections on time.
The problem of these countries, led by France, the United States of America, and Germany, is the confusion between the Turkish forces that came to Libya at the request of its legitimate government.
Among the foreign mercenaries, including those affiliated with the Russian Wagner Company, Sudanese soldiers, Chadian and Sudanese rebel movements, who are not sponsored by any state and are fighting for Haftar’s militias.
Turkey was the only country that responded to the call for help made by the internationally recognized Libyan Government of National Accord at the end of 2019.
And this is after Tripoli almost fell into the hands of Haftar’s militia, backed by Wagner mercenaries and African mercenaries, as well as from French special units and strong Emirati and Egyptian military support.
The Turkish intervention through military advisers and advanced weapons, led by the Bayraktar marches, helped save Tripoli from falling and achieve military balance.
This helped the conflicting parties to sit at the dialogue table, and to agree on the formation of a unity government, and a ceasefire.
The final statement of the Second Berlin Conference did not include any sanctions or condemnations for Haftar’s obstruction of the elections, the opening of the coastal road, and the unification of the military establishment.
With the exception of a general talk about “the application and respect of UN sanctions through national measures also against those who violate the arms embargo or the ceasefire,” according to the Italian agency Nova.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a press conference, “We want the elections to take place on time” and for the “mercenaries” to leave Libya, but considered that this “will be done gradually.”
Maas praised what had been achieved since the first Berlin conference, which was held on January 19, 2020, on top of which was the formation of a national unity government.
It won the parliament’s confidence last March, a ceasefire, and the resumption of oil production and exports.
Even if the second Berlin Conference confirmed its support for the unity government, its failure to condemn the violations of Haftar and Aqila Saleh may provide a negative signal that they continue to obstruct the elections, even if they announce their support for it.