Egypt & UAE push for political track as fatigue over military campaign grows
On 9 July, reports began emerging of a new political movement in eastern Libya, backed by the UAE, that will see a new ‘national government’ formed, with former Tripoli-based ambassador to Abu Dhabi, Aref Ali Nayed, as its head. There have reportedly been multiple meetings between Nayed and the head of the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tubruq, Aqeela Saleh.
The UAE, which is a long-time supporter of Libya’s eastern political and military factions, is allegedly keen to consolidate the HOR’s political standing in the wake of wavering military progress in Tripoli. It is thought to be exerting pressure on LNA leader Khalifa Haftar to submit to a civilian government. The UAE’s push for Nayed to become either the president or prime minister of a new government effectively complements Egypt’s new political initiative, the aim of which appears to be to facilitate a viable agreement amongst HoR members for a new unity government.
However, this remains an eastern initiative, with little evidence of any buy-in or dialogue with any representatives of the western or anti-LNA factions. Egypt and the UAE’s shift towards a political track is indicative of their increased fatigue and possible doubt about the LNA’s capacity to resolve the current crisis through military means. The conflict in Tripoli has become protracted and appears to have become more entrenched following the LNA’s loss of its base in Ghariyan at the end of last month. Given a quick victory seems highly unlikely and international appetite for backing the LNA may be waning, the LNA’s regional backers are looking for an alternative (plus cheaper and more controllable) track. At present, this ‘plan b’ political track is running in parallel to the military track, but if it gains momentum, the LNA may find its military provisions, training and fiscal reimbursements curtailed and come under pressure to submit to the new government.