Egypt Attempts to Broker New Libya Roadmap
Reuters reports that Libyan factions have tentatively agreed on an Egyptian-brokered peace roadmap which includes a joint committee to be formed between the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State to finalise amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), and new parliamentary and presidential elections to be held by February 2018. However, Egypt’s failure to engineer a meeting between Khalifa Haftar and Fayez al-Serraj, prime minister of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), this week is a setback to months of increasingly coordinated Egyptian, Algerian and Tunisian diplomacy between Libya’s rival factions, with the aim of including Haftar within an amended LPA framework. The meeting between Haftar and Serraj, which was due to take place in Cairo on 14 February, did not happen after Haftar reportedly refused at the last minute to meet with Serraj.
With the UN process deeply compromised and no replacement to UN Envoy Martin Kobler in the pipeline after the US rejected the appointment of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, there is a danger the mediations will stall and for genuine conflict to now erupt. Haftar has always refused to participate in the political process so his refusal to meet Serraj is not surprising, however his move may strain relations between Hafter and the Egyptian authorities. This incident is also likely to weaken Serraj’s position further and could lead to the strengthening of the newly-formed Libyan National Guard which opposes the GNA in Tripoli.
One interpretation is that Haftar is in fact trying to be included in the political process but is trying to increase his leverage and gain more support from the United States (or Western countries) for this new plan and is playing the Russians off the American until he can gain more support from the Trump administration. Another more worrying interpretation is the personalities are proving dominant over strategy. And hence even though the international community is trying to include Haftar, and his advisers are pushing for him to accept these overtures, it is still impossible to overcome the sheer clash of personalities and mutual dislike. This latter interpretation bodes very ill for the next months, while the former one could lead to a break through if the new US administration chose to decisively engage.
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