Libyans are eagerly awaiting the presidential and parliamentary elections, while regional and international sides seek to obstruct this step to implement non-national agendas and achieve their ambitions.
In this context, Cairo and the Gulf states attach great attention to the issue of removing foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya and adhering to the road map, which President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has previously emphasized in all his meetings with international officials. Indeed, over the last ten years of the Libyan crisis, Egypt and the Gulf states played a pivotal role through international institutions to reach political solutions and stop the exchange of fire between the Libyan people.
Cairo also actively participated in the Berlin Conference to resolve the Libyan crisis, which was held on 19 January 2020. Egypt affirmed at the time that no one would benefit if Libya turned into a country hijacked by crises and torn apart by conflicts, and a source of terrorist threats. Egyptian efforts included participating in ministerial meetings throughout the year for Libya’s neighboring countries, which were held alternately between Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria.
Egyptian diplomacy, in particular, and Arab diplomacy in general, has spared no effort to resolve the Libyan crisis. The best evidence of this is Cairo’s efforts at the ministerial meeting of the International Follow-up Committee emanating from the Berlin Summit on Libya, as well as support for the permanent ceasefire agreement that was reached.
Over the past five years, Cairo received all the Libyan factions and stood at the same distance from the warring parties, and everyone realized that Egypt had no ambitions in Libya. Cairo is now reaping the fruits of its efforts by holding national elections on their scheduled date on December 24, based on the laws approved by the Libyan Parliament. This is because it is an important and landmark step for Libya’s transition to a new reality and a sustainable political system based on the will of the Libyan people by their free choice.
With the support of its brothers in the Arab Gulf, Egypt has worked to find common ground among all Libyans to help them reach an integrated national executive vision that addresses the roots of the political, economic, and security crisis that Libya has been experiencing since 2011. The most prominent of these efforts was the launch of the “Cairo Declaration” initiative in June 2020 as a Libyan-Libyan initiative, to resolve the crisis within the framework of the efforts of the United Nations.
Following the “Cairo Declaration”, the Egyptian leadership worked to intensify contacts and meetings with all relevant international parties to resolve the crisis to build on the initiative. It also urged all parties inside Libya to return to the negotiating track, restore Libyan will and sovereignty to the Libyans themselves, and confront all forms of foreign interference.
The Egyptian efforts were not limited to diplomacy only, but also included the economic and military aspects, helping the Libyan army build its capabilities and unifying its capabilities, and helping to get rid of terrorist outposts. This is in addition to emphasizing the need to pay attention to the equitable distribution of wealth, to achieve comprehensive development in all parts of Libya, and to advance the economy.
As for the US position, it is difficult to determine whether or not to support holding the elections on time, especially since the final list of candidates has not been published. The candidacy of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Dabaiba, who appear to be more popular than the rest of the candidates, could lead a pro-Russian figure to the presidency of Libya, which would prompt the United States to agree to a postponement.
In addition, although Dabaiba is not affiliated with Russia, his strong relations with Turkey make him far from the confidence of the Americans who realize that he is a figure close to Turkey who will take into account the close relations between Ankara and Moscow, so it will be difficult to move her against Wagner.
Some believe that Dabaiba’s goal of rapprochement with Haftar is to gain more time to consolidate his popularity, which he gained mainly through the use of public money, as he was able, through his alliance with Central Bank Governor Sadiq al-Kabeer, to raise the standard of living relatively compared to the era of former Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. At the same time, the commander of the National Army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, wants to get rid of Saif al-Islam.
Despite the ambiguity of the electoral scene and the obstacles it faces, no figure has indicated their intention to postpone the elections, except the State Council and the House of Representatives, which were recently attached to it. In any case, the coming days will be difficult and laden with many conflicting events.
Hatem Sadek: Professor at Helwan University