KT edit: Libyan peace is key to a stable region

Elections by no means can ensure an immediate end to the Libyan crisis.

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Published: Wed 23 Jun 2021, 10:48 PM

For a country that has been embroiled in chaos and violence for most of the last decade, an eight-month-long truce since October surely sounds promising. It is also a good enough reason for the United Nations and international allies of Libya to gather again to build on this progress and explore ways to unify the country’s fragmented institutions. The focus right now is to ensure various factions in the country stay committed to hold elections as planned on December 24 this year. The latest round of talks in Germany are reminding participants of pledges made last year in January 2020 to end foreign meddling in Libyan affairs and the withdrawal of foreign fighters. Elections by no means can ensure an immediate end to the Libyan crisis, but it could mark a milestone development and set the pace for future stability in a country that has been caught in a long civil war.

The talks in Germany have in attendance Libya’s transitional government for the first time, which lends some confidence to the international community on the seriousness of the process. The UAE is supportive of these talks and is a part of the process along with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Italy and Turkey. Libya’s interim prime minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh asked for international help to withdraw foreign fighters from Libya as he addressed the Berlin talks aimed at shoring up the peace process. It was in September 2014 when the UN first brokered dialogue between the warring factions; these talks have continued intermittently since then. Considerable progress, however, has been achieved only in the last two years and the ceasefire agreement in October eventually led to a deal on elections and formation of a transitional government in February this year. The success of this meeting and the future of Libya depends on when foreign fighters leave Libya and if fair elections will take place as suggested.

Libya is a major producer of oil in North Africa, but the country’s wealth has hardly benefitted its people. The country today has become an arena of competing interests. The fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime should have been the start of a more stable country but the power vacuum at the helm has since created deep fissures among people and divided them regionally. Several foreign fighters have since moved in to exploit the gains as have extremist groups such as Daesh. The rising influence of Daesh, in fact, is a reminder to Libyans of the high price of continued disunity. Elections in December will be the first seminal step in a long road to stabilise the country. Arab countries have been supportive of this peace process and welcomed the formation of the new Libyan authority in February. It would continue to support all measures that can stabilise the nation and the region. Recovering oil prices could play a positive role in propping up the economy, but before that the biggest challenge could be disarming the fragmented regional militias and uniting the country under one leader and one government. How that happens remains to be seen, but what can be said with certainty is the continuous support of the UAE and Arab countries to the people of Libya. A peaceful and stable region requires conflict-free countries.

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