Libya and the question of peace has become a multi-unknown puzzle since the fall of Gaddafi; from 2011 onward, with the cooperation of neighboring countries, including Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, as well as UN representatives, the European Union, etc., repeatedly, the political-military leaders of the internal conflict, the governments of Tobruk and Tripoli in Libya have come to the negotiation table; but each time, shortly after the peace agreement, the conflict between the two sides resumed with power-seeking domestic provocations and foreign players.
Although the recent round of negotiations continued more seriously than before and committees were formed for financial-economic, political integration and even the date for a general election was set for December 24, 2021 (the anniversary of Libya’s independence); it remains to be seen what root causes have been removed in reality; has the root problem of the internal clientalism dictatorships been solved today, or has it gone from one Gaddafi to several Gaddafis; also, has the issue of interference and conflict of interest of foreign players in that country been resolved?
Fragile and fluid peace in Libya
The current situation suggests that as long as such rooted issues remain, the peace talks between the country’s political and military factions should be viewed with skepticism, and the continuation of the peace seems to be moving on a narrow line that will be quite fragile and fluid.
Although the recent round of peace talks has been more serious and accompanied by optimistic rhetoric, the future will prove whether this optimism will ultimately pull Libya out of the war of attrition or not; the destructive game of foreign players in Libya between the two spheres of power and security, each of which pursues its own targets, has created a set of ambiguities and complexities and paved the way for the players to enter into the peace talks and seek a share in power with a view that the conditions of attrition and lack of victory have prevailed over each side.
However, the pattern of power distribution of foreign players with domestic players in Libya is accompanied by a sense of pride and fear of losing interests; but Libya has economic, geopolitical, identity, ethnic, and religious supplements that greatly increases the security pessimism among the players, and in the first stage, the players move to the elimination of each other, in other words the zero sum game. But the aggravating supplementary conditions in Libya have led the domestic and foreign players to realize that it is not possible to continue this elimination mode and reducing power on the other side is not possible, and that a sense of attrition and discontinuity of victory has developed among the players. Therefore, what has increased optimism is the attrition dimensions of the Libyan war; but the supplements of the pattern for distribution of power in Libya make the destructive role of the game among foreign players more competitive, leaving the issue of peace ambiguous and unreliable despite the important agreements reached in Morocco and Geneva.
Moroccan talks neither the end of war nor beginning of lasting peace in Libya
Since the root of the Libyan conflict has internal and external dimensions, and in the meantime foreign players, with the provocations of internal elements in that country are increasing its scope, therefore it is very optimistic to think that the Morocco talks will have desirable outcome, even though they are serious and backed by the United Nations and other international organizations.
Libya today has the problem of democracy, and in other words, the leaders of that country, who today hold peace talks in different countries, each claim to be another Gaddafi and have not yet reached that level of national consciousness to end the internal conflict. Therefore, to the extent that factors such as 1- the patriarchal system of Gaddafi regime which has led to lack of development of civil society and the experience of democratic competition in Libya, which is reflected in the performance of all domestic players and 2- the dominance of tribal culture in that country which has a situation much worse than other countries in the region; 3- lack of mobilization of political elites; 4- destructive interference of external factors; 5- factionalism among political spectrums; 6- the issue of energy and oil, which is one of the important obstacles to the agreement between political groups in that country; 7- extremism and related issues; are not removed, it will not be resolved. No matter in this round of talks the east-west integration committees of Libya have been formed, there is little hope for lasting peace and stability, and the situation in Libya must be viewed with an indeterminate look.
Respect for results of December 24 elections is crucial
In other words, understanding between east and west of Libya and the leaders who claim power and think that if they take a step back they will lose the game, is very difficult; therefore, if after the elections of December 24, 2021, the internal leaders respect the results, we can say that Libya is one step closer to the lasting peace. Another point is that the issue of territorial justice in the Moroccan talks is very vague due to the small population in the east, and there is a strong possibility that this will become a new issue and challenge after the elections.
Eventually; Libya and the negotiations that have taken place so far in different cities of the world (Geneva, Morocco, Tunisia, etc.) should not be emotionally dealt with and analyzed. The nature of analysis and semiotics of Libyan developments in future should still be considered uncertain and transitional in order to resist the temptation of determining the winners and losers. What needs to be said specifically about this country is that if those events had not taken place in Tunisia and then in Egypt, such developments would certainly not have started so quickly in that country.
In fact, poor distribution in North Africa has initially caused the economic crisis and then the activation of intellectual faults and its consequences leading to intellectual, social, political and, ultimately, security gaps; therefore, in the final stage, the nature of security has emerged in which the issue of influence and power is of great importance for the present players, and with their intervention, grounds have been formed for the current chaos and its consequences.
What makes North Africa important for regional and trans-regional players, despite the different targets of each of those players in the region, is the “equation of balance of security and power”, especially for regional players. Therefore, this strategic point has become a context to increase the scope of security fears among domestic and foreign players in Libya, and to increase the level of instability of most peace talks.