Lybia and the challenges of the New Parliament
Three years after Gaddafi’s execution, Libya’s government is not yet installed and guerrilla is in the country without being punished. Libyan principal cities are in danger and refugees are escaping from the country, with humanitarian disgraces almost at every border. The cease fires imposed by the United Nations are not respected by the fighting groups and techs (pick-up cars with a gunship over the roof called technicals or tech used by non-regular army) are travelling around the nation. Despite Senoussi, former Libyan prime minister, who proposed a strong Islamic religious master to unify the nation, Gaddafi used the “rereading” of the Islamic law in a personalistic key as a binder for the population, surrounding himself with relatives and or trusted persons. His death caused a massive lack of a leadership and, despite the fact that the regular army is loyal to its commander in chief, it is not, in every case, towards the Premier. The nation, (using the western definition for an eastern concept) has thin borders and in some cases blood-related matters cross these lines. In Tripolitania and almost in every part of the nation, tribes are claiming power against people and the situation, after the Arab Spring, is not clear. The new general elections, established for the first half of 2014 and then delayed until June 25th, has to face different challenges, first of all to determine its power over the nation, and to put an end to the crime and violence flood in the cities, defining the future of Libya itself.
The first meeting of the parliament (on august 4th) was established in Tobruq, in the north east of Libya. This place was de-facto chosen because both Tripoli and Benghazi were too much insecure and violent for such an important reunion. The majority of the new parliament is made up of secular groups and, even if only its minority is close to Islamism and Muslim Brotherhood, the situation is still unclear. In the city of Dernah radical Islamic groups in favour to al Qaeda fight with Muslim Brotherhood, and the central government is not able to give an effective response.
On the other side, an important role for the future of the conflicts is played by oil. Libya exports almost 95% of oil-energy, and the most important European refineries are dependant from Libyan oil. During Gaddafi’s sovereign, fees were high but oil extraction was ruled by central government and sold, without any interruption. After his death, Ibrahim Jathran, leader of an autonomist group, closed the Ras Lanuf and Es Seder oil terminals in 2013 (both produce 550 thousands of barrels per day). He accused the Muslim Brotherhood of oil-theft to the detriment of the Libyan population, because they did not want to share the gains from oil-selling, and loaded a directed oil tanker in May 2014. Even if he wanted to sell the cargo and share the revenue with Libyan population, the US, under the resolution no.2146 of the UNSC, stopped the tanker accused of unauthorized and illegal oil-selling, and the army took control of the terminals. On June, the prime minister Abdullah al-Thani, claimed that the crude crisis has ended without violence and he delivered the management of the Ras Sanuf and Es Seder terminals to the central government for their activation. This is crucial for Libyan exports: before Arab Spring it produced and sold 1.7 million of barrels per day, but now the problem is also the expensiveness required for their start-up. The oil production in 2014 is 600 thousands barrels per day, the highest level in the last six months, but not enough to attract international oil companies. As a consequence, those companies has called back their technicians from Libyan sites, fearing the instable nature of the region, with losses in terms of productions and exports. The ups and downs in the production also highlight an inner instability, which the government should face to improve the production.
The situation in the cities is at the edge of collapse: citizens are escaping from Benghazi, Tripoli and other major centres, and the foreign nations are calling back their diplomats and closing embassies. The only embassy of the western countries in Tripoli is the Italian embassy, discouraging people to come to Libya, but it is concretely possible that this is going to be closed soon, if the country still remains in this situation.
Also in North Africa region the situation teeters: the prime minister of Egypt, al-Sisi, fears for the Egyptians working in Libya and for a possible guerrilla border-crossing, which could cause instability in the area. He also claims that Europe and US have a moral duty to solve the situation.In Tunisia the climate is more upset. The massive immigration of refugees in the customs has caused the death of a policeman, and the government has threatened to close the borders with Libya if the situation would not calm down. In this atmosphere, the Assembly passed last week (August 13th ) a resolution requesting the United Nations to intervene to protect civilians and state institutions “from fighting between rival militias”.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNIMIL) has answered by increasing its efforts to ceasefires, but it is really difficult to have a dialogue with different tribes and with a central government which is unable of control the population. The nation enforcing attempts could be easily become peace enforcing dialogues in this region, because of the instable nature of the situation.Libya is now facing an unpredictable circumstance, where both the Assembly and the Prime Minister have no power against the armed groups. Oil is also another problem, because Libyan oil-dependent economy needs foreign investments to survive, otherwise it will collapse and will be lost by central government and acquired by fighting groups. By the end the central army plays a crucial role: it is loyal to the nation, but with Gaddafi’s death the lack of power and of a binder for the population, it is now impossible to maintain the situation safe for citizens of different tribe or culture, and the humanitarian disaster is at the edge.