The newly-established Libyan government is the result of an extremely complex political process.
Not even the new government led by Faiez Al-Serraj shows signs of simplifying the political framework in Libya, following the unreasonable murder of Muammar Al Minyar El Gaddafi.
Obviously the cables collected by WikiLeaks have shown us what we already knew, namely that the advent of “democracy” in Libya was a forerunner of the more profitable entry of Total, in place of the de facto monopolist ENI, to process the abundant and valuable Libyan oil.
However, former President Sarkozy’s request regarded 32% of Libya’s crude oil, much less than the 43% the Italian company ENI processed every year.
Hence the implosion of a country with 140 tribal networks, as well as of the 20 major tribes – one of the easiest geopolitical predictions to be made – not to mention the strong interest of Egypt, which sends manpower to work in Libyan wells.
And not to mention Tunisia, which is deeply concerned about the presence on its own territory of the jihadist group Ansar al Sharia, the section of the terrorist group bearing the same name in Libya and first economic partner of Gaddafi’s Libya, which now hosts over one million refugees from jihadist and tribal post-Gaddafi wars (out of a Libyan population of nearly six million people).
Algeria is especially worried about the use of the Fezzan region as a base for Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the spearhead of the whole Algerian radical Islamism.
Furthermore Prime Minister Al-Serraj is the same that Bernardino Leon, UN representative and Head of UNSMIL, appointed on October 9, 2015, shortly before being ousted because of the serious conflict of interest regarding this Spanish diplomat.
Following his appointment as Head of UNSMIL, Leon was said to have been paid a salary of $ 50,000 per month in the Academy for the training of diplomats organized by the United Arab Emirates. He was negotiating it while he led the UN agency for Libya.
Incidentally, the Spanish diplomat to the UN had soon endeavored to reach a solution “excluding Tripoli’s government” – a government which, in fact, is strongly opposed by the United Arab Emirates which, however, during Leon’s “mediation” decided to bomb Tripoli’s government.
But which is the complexion of Al-Serraj’s new government and what do the 32 appointments, including 4 deputy-Prime Ministers, mean?
Let us analyze them carefully.
Seven of the nine members of the Presidential Council, however, voted in favour of the government team and the two votes against it were Ali Gatrani’s and Omar Al-Aswad’s.
Gatrani is a man of Khalifa Haftar, the Head of the military campaign dubbed “Operation Dignity”, who is not liked by Tripoli’s government and hence has been sidelined.
Surely 32 Ministers for a country of six million inhabitants seem a bit too many, but it is obvious that many clan, tribe and party appetites had to be satisfied – not to mention the Ministers overtly being the point of reference of a foreign country or the other.
Hence the consideration made by some French analysts, whereby this unity government will de facto lead to three separate governments, is somehow grounded.
Meanwhile, Daesh/Isis is producing propaganda material asking Tunisian, Egyptian and Algerian jihadists to migrate as soon as possible to Libya, with the oil sites of Ras Lanuf and Sitra conquered and then lost by Islamic terrorists, with the subsequent Isis attack on a Turkish oil base in Maradah.
Omar Al-Aswad, the other member of Libya’s Presidential Council, did not vote in favor of the government for several reasons. In Aswad’s opinion, the new government is based not on competence but on cronyism – in addition to the fact that the number of Ministers was initially envisaged to be 10, then 24, and finally rose to 32 after a hard and exhausting night meeting in which neither Gatrani nor Aswad were present.
The latter has specifically criticized the appointment, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, of Marwan Ali Abu Sraiweil, former Head of the Social Affairs Department of that same Ministry (which is different from the Ministry for International Cooperation and for Arab and African relations).
The Minister for Internal Affairs, Al-Aref Al Khuja, the powerful police officer of Tripoli’s government, will probably be the strong man of this new regime, if he survives the specific and precise calculations of the two factions of Tobruk and Tripoli, wanted by UNSMIL and harbinger of an institutional block or of a government which will only be busy with its internal power struggles.
It is worth recalling that Aref had already been an adviser to his government in 2003, as well as Minister for Internal Affairs in the short-lived government of Ahmed Maiteegh.
Hence the laws drafted by Machiavelli in his book “The Prince” apply also to the North African territory.
The Defense Minister, Mahdi Al Barghati, was the Commander of the 204 Brigade, one of the major forces that fought against the jihadists in Benghazi, and escaped an assassination attempt on November last.
The Justice Minister is Abdelsalam Al-Jnaidi, a lawyer from Sebha, Southern Libya.
There are only two women in this government, namely the Labour Minister, Fahdi Al-Shafei, coming from Uwainat, Southwestern Libya, and the Culture Minister, Asma al-Ustra, a writer, journalist and university Professor from Tripoli.
The oil Minister is Abdessadeq Khalifa, a man who, as the Defense Minister, comes from the government of Tobruk.
Hence true or alleged asymmetry between the two constituent factions; excessive organizational complexity of the new government; statements made against Al-Serraj’s government by the authorities of either previous government; difficult resolution, if any, of the division between the financial foundations which managed Gaddafi’s liquidity and his investment.
Once again Machiavelli’s lessons, whereby discord “destroys the wealth and the strength of Principalities”, hold true also in the Islamic region.
Giancarlo Elia Valori (@GEliaValori)
Honorable of the Académie des Sciences of the Institut de France