Libya Is Dead

Source:The National Interest Date:25Jan2020

For one, Sarraj and Hiftar were nowhere to be seen. While both were apprised of developments throughout the day, neither one could get himself to sit in the same room with the other. Merkel made this point clear; the two men despise each other. Sarraj believes Hiftar is an aggressor who seeks to storm Tripoli, impose a personalist military dictatorship in the mold of Muammar al-Qaddafi, and rule the country by fiat. Hiftar, meanwhile, considers Sarraj’s administrations in Tripoli as weak, lawless, and completely reliant on militias dominated by Islamic extremists.  The relationship is toxic, and regional powers have done nothing at all to address it.

Which brings us to the second point: as long as external players like the UAE, Egypt, and Turkey are committed to stringing this war along, no intra-Libya diplomacy will succeed.  While Moscow may be getting tired of the war and frustrated with Hiftar’s personality, Abu Dhabi hasn’t demonstrated much interest in de-escalation. The Egyptians look at Hiftar’s army of militias in the east and see them as the best bulwark against an Islamist-dominated government next-door.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a hothead with delusions of grandeur, sees in Libya an opportunity to expand Turkish influence in North Africa, ink energy deals in the Mediterranean, and make Ankara a power-player in another theater of the Arab world.