Increased fragmentation of mediation iniatives
The UN-mediated political dialogue process appears increasingly fragmented after the UN announced a series of new dialogues in Geneva (military) and Tunis (political) in an effort to maintain momentum and piggyback on earlier discussions brokered by Egypt and Russia. The UN approach is vulnerable to falling apart or being sidelined/hijacked by other international processes – Egypt, Russia and France are all positioning their mediation efforts to undermine the UN’s.
Indeed, Russia announced plans for a 100-member Libyan-Libyan dialogue, heralding its likely intention to overtly out-manoeuvre and supersede the UN’s Libya Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF). Moscow appears increasingly able to dominate both international political mediation and the security situation in Libya.
Meanwhile, Egypt also manifested its wilingness to play a key role in restructuring the Libyan political landscape. A meeting between the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State (HCS) took place in Cairo on 11-13 October, during which were discussed scenarios for Libya’s political organisation. Egypt’s concerns remain a functional LNA able to block an emergent jihadi presence and influential political Islam that might emerge on its Western border.
The US, Egypt and Russia have indicated that they may be working together to eventually replace Haftar as head of the LNA and to generate alternative leadership for any future unified Libyan military. High-level meetings between US Ambassador Norland in Cairo and elsewhere last week could potentially indicate an eventual side-lining of Haftar’s international role. All three nations now appear to back HoR Speaker Aqeela Saleh as Cyrenaica’s representative due to his legal role as head of the HoR. Moscow and Ankara have also been manoeuvring to see Saleh as the head of a new Presidential Council, thereby ensuring their influence in Libya’s future political environment and making sure that a post-War on Tripoli Libya does not drift into the Western orbit.