HoR Rejects Thinni’s Cabinet, Libya Dawn Tries to Restore Life in the Capital
Appointed Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni is expected to present tonight his new cabinet to the House of Representatives after the first one he proposed a few days ago was turned down by MPs. Reports indicate that this will be Thinni’s last possibility to retain the job, after which the mandate will be given to a new candidate. Optimism, however, seems to prevail with Thinni and HoR President Ageela Saleh set to leave Tobruk after the cabinet vote will have taken place and attend the UN General Assembly in New York during the upcoming days.
Meanwhile, the two blocs dominating Libya’s politics continue to bring forth two diametrically opposed narratives. On the one hand, the HoR and the bloc it represents are still pursuing a heightened international engagement in an attempt to salvage both their status and a military campaign which has seen HoR-aligned forces lose the upper hand to Libya Dawn ones. On the other hand, for the time being, Libya Dawn forces seem very keen on freezing the current landscape, renouncing to asserti their full authority over the eastern part of the country, but forcing at the same time the HoR to accept a re-scoped role as administrator of the areas around Tobruk and Baida only as well as a general atomisation of the country’s administration. Libya Dawn Forces have also announced that refugees, expatriates and foreign diplomats should return to Tripoli where life and the security situation are back to normal, but strongly underlined that internal negotiations between rival factions are a matter pertaining to Libyan nationals only. The belated proclamation of a national state of emergency made on Thursday by newly appointed Chief of Staff Nazhuri should thus be seen as an attempt to undermine these attempts by Libya Dawn forces to see their control over the capital de facto recognised by international partners.
Furthermore, on Friday, a weapon depot belonging to Libya Dawn forces was hit by yet another air strike carried out by ‘unidentified forces’. It is unclear at this stage what are the strategic goals behind these strikes, which have so far accomplished very little from a military point of view whilst marring the internal standing and legitimacy of the HoR bloc. The strikes are also unlikely to create momentum for further military engagement given last week’s latest rejection of military intervention in the country which came from Libya’s Madrid conference.
Lastly, as previously mentioned, confrontations currently seem to have shifted from the military field to the control of the Central Bank’s (CBL) assets and organizational structure. Rori Donaghy of the Middle East Eye put together a very interesting piece on this issue, focusing on the differences between former CBL governor Elkaber and his interim replacement al-Habri, as well as on the difficulties that lie ahead for the HoR:
This split has given rise to the spectre of two CBLs emerging over the coming weeks, according to the ICG’s Gazzani. “The Tobruk government could take over the Benghazi branch of the CBL to act as its headquarters, but it is not clear what this would mean in terms of liquidity and funds,” she said. “Up until now, the CBL in Tripoli has transferred funds to Benghazi. If there is separation of the CBL the question is: how will the Benghazi branch get money? It would require redirecting payments for oil sales from Tripoli’s main account into other subsidiary accounts.” “That would mean a complete overhaul of the payment process for oil revenues,” she added.
(…) The potential for two rival central banks has prompted increased fears of Libya’s international assets being frozen, which the CBL has previously warned “would lead to a loss of sovereignty and would not be in the interest of the country and its security and stability.”
(…) The ICG’s Gazzani, however, said an asset freeze could be used to pressure reconciliation between the warring political and military groups. “Freezing assets could be a means for the international community to force dialogue on both sides of the political divide and find a solution to end this impasse.”