Could Libyan Presidential Election Result in Tripoli Recognising Israel?
09:08 GMT 23.12.2021 (Updated: 11:04 GMT 24.11.2022)
On Friday, 2.5 million Libyans were expected to head to polling stations for the first time in years to elect their next president. At least 96 candidates have submitted applications for the top spot in the oil-rich nation. But the Central Election Committee has since announced that the much-anticipated polls will be pushed back to next month.
Experts have already warned that elections in Libya might escalate tensions and aggravate the situation, given the political and security instability in place for the past decade. But local authorities insist on going ahead with the polls
, partially to create unity and partially due to international pressure.
Mohammed Ali Kraer, a leading Libyan political analyst and director of the Libyan Forum for Communication and Dialogue, says there are many regional and international players who will be closely watching the developments in the war-ravaged country.
"It is a known fact that the US, Britain, and France are the ones who control the Libyan scene, either directly or through their allies in the region. But there are also some other [regional] actors, who also want to cement their presence in the country".
Relations With Israel on the Horizon?
Each of these players pursues its own agenda, believes the expert, and one of these goals is the establishment of ties between Libya and Israel.
In 2020, Israel, which only had peace deals with two Arab nations, Egypt and Jordan, signed a number of normalisation agreements.
In September, it inked pacts with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. A month later, it established ties with Sudan and in December of that year resumed relations with Morocco.
Since then, officials have been hinting that more Muslim countries were ready to follow suit, while international and local media have been speculating which state or states that could be.
Libya has been on that list. In November, after the son of General Haftar went on a blitz-visit to Israel, it was reported that his father had vowed to recognise the Jewish state if elected president in the upcoming elections.
Kraer says the general's plans "are no longer a secret" to the people of Libya. He says that Haftar is sure to recognise Israel if he ends up coming to power. But he warns that this policy will promote conflict and instability and will not be accepted by the masses.
"The Libyan people do not want new colonialism, even if it is painted in other colours and even if it appears to be brighter. They do not want to be dependent on the international community and modern colonialism, and they do not want to lose their national identity", said the expert.
For many in the Arab world, Israel is seen as the embodiment of western colonialism. It has been associated with depriving Palestinians of their lands and it has been accused of expansionist policies, in the West Bank and across the Middle East.
"All we want is to liberate our economy from the clutches of international players and their decisions. We do want to cooperate with them in science, construction, development, and human rights but these should be done on the basis of mutual trust, not coercion", he added.
They Don't Really Care About Us
Yet, ties with Israel aren't foreign powers' only goal, believes the expert. He claims their interference in Libyan affairs is done not for the sake of the ordinary people, but as part of their grand scheme to deprive Libyans of their resources
, divide and then conquer the country.
Before 2011, Libya ranked 9th in the world in terms of oil reserves and was a rather well-off country although Gaddafi ruled it with an iron fist and there were multiple reports about oppression and abuse of human rights. The outbreak of the Arab Spring in February of that year caused the situation to deteriorate and pushed the nation into poverty, instability, and civil war.
After the ouster of the longtime ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, the country – that was largely united under his leadership and a strong fist – began to fall apart.
The East fell into the hands of General Khalifa Haftar, a former general of Gaddafi and an ally of Egypt as well as a number of Gulf states. It is also an area, where extremist groups are allegedly still active. The West is controlled by the Government of National Accord that has links with Turkey and a number of western states, whereas the South is purportedly run by French intelligence, its allies, and some mercenary groups.
Only Way Forward
The elections were aimed at putting an end to this division, uniting the country, and giving Libyans hope for a better future. But Kraer says the real change will only happen if all players manage to come to terms with one another.
"The Libyan issue is far from being settled and can only be solved under one condition, that the international players and the United Nations reach a certain consensus".
But the analyst also believes that holding elections is the only way forward.
"Conducting general polls is the only means of stability for Libya. If they are not held, it might kill the ambitions of the Libyan people. It will inevitably lead to divisions and more wars. It will push the nation into a deeper crisis, but there must be a constitution and appropriate laws. These elections should come from the will of the Libyan people. These are very important conditions".