Haftar Holds the Key to Peace in Libya
The last days have seen two key interventions by Mattia Toaldo in the debate on Libya. He crucially points out in a Middle East Eye piece, how Haftar’s recent airstrikes were deliberately scheduled to derail the talks. This is a crucial argument as it shows that supporting Haftar on behalf of Egypt or France is guaranteed to prolong the civil war and impede negotiations. Mattia spells out the key hurdles which are holding back the making of a deal in Morocco.
Ultimately, the “consensus government” may not be a solution to the collapse of the country’s government structure. Thinking that the new executive branch will connect with ministries and government agencies in Tripoli is delusional as long as its decision-making remains in Tobruk, hundreds of miles from the capital.
The transfer of both government and parliament to the capital or to Benghazi will be impossible while the fighting goes on. This is unlikely to stop until the parties agree on a less public item which is under discussion in the talks: a “consensus” head of the armed forces to replace Haftar, or at least a consensual civilian commander-in-chief. This is why for as long as Haftar is in charge, he will do everything he can to sabotage a national unity deal that would ultimately unseat him – and strikes on airports like Maitiga are just the starter.
If talks are going to be successful and if the consensus government is to be effectively operating from Tripoli, it is up to Haftar to call off the offensive against Tripoli. But this is unlikely to happen while he has such powerful friends in the region – and powerful friends of those friends in Europe, particularly in the Italian and French governments.
To read the whole article click here.
Separately, Dr Toaldo has helped Reuters unpack why Tubroq’s plans to set up an Eastern NOC are likely to fail. It is all about the contracts and their sanctity and how they exert a kind of momentum that can’t be stopped. To read that click here and below are key excerpts.
But analysts, oil insiders and Libyan businessmen said the eastern firm – also called NOC – is unlikely to persuade buyers that it is the legitimate owner of Africa’s largest oil reserves, as long as the original NOC is still operating in the capital. “Oil contracts… are signed with the (Tripoli) NOC and paid into central bank accounts,” said Mattia Toaldo, policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “I don’t think that materially the …(eastern) government could change that without modifying these contracts,” he said. “It’d have to assure to the companies that it is in fact in control, which is not the case.” Introducing a new payment system would mean breaking up the central bank, which has processed oil exports though accounts used by buyers for decades, and which is the only source of hard currency for the importers who feed Libya’s 6 million people.