03 August 2020 07:33 PM

Egypt's efforts to resolve Libyan crisis

Sunday، 30 September 2018 09:46 AM

Egypt has sought to be in the Libyan crisis based on its political and security perceptions towards the Libyan crisis where Libya represents a strategic depth of its national security, as well as the size of the economic interests and social ties between the two countries. In view of the Libyan political reality after the revolution in 2011, which resulted in the political consensus cases in contrast to spacing cases at the security and social levels, which makes it extremely complicated in Libya as it is so important also.

On the political level,Egypt realizes that the security and stability of Libya will be achieved through its own people without imposing external solutions and dictates. Therefore,Egypt is seeking to help Libya to get out of the current political impasse to create a political horizon that brings together the various activated factions and powers in Libya.

On the security level, Egypt is concerned, the world shared it, about the security deteriorating in Libya and its transformation into a supporting focus for the security threats facing neighboring countries such as the new terrorist organizations in North Africa and Sahel-Sahara  region like Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and Ansar Bait al-Maqdis in Egypt, where there is general apprehension of  the regional link between these organizations and Daesh organization in Syria and Iraq, in addition to the Tuareg rebels in Mali and Niger. This showed a new dimension in the Libyan crisis, which there is a possibility of using geopolitical situation in Libya to produce jihadist militias, political or military organizations take a violent approach.

Egypt has two security files, the first file is the regional threats that Egypt shares with other neighboring countries in dealing with it, whether it is smuggling arms, facilitating the entry of drugs or assistance in illegal immigration and trafficking people, and the second one is securing the Eastern region in Libya, which has become a security deteriorating that is considered a serious threat to Egypt.

Through these perceptions, Egypt intends to take  a number of important moves, including a dialogue with representatives of the legitimate entities in Libya, both in the east and in the west, a dialogue with the Libyan tribal elders to reach a framework for political settlement in Libya ending the state of division extended since 2014,the implementation of Skhirat Agreement as a basis for a political settlement and the provision of necessary funds, logistical and military support to build the state structure that puts an end to the threats within the Libyan State, whether against the Libyan state or against the regional neighbors countries to stop the conflicts, which the  Libyan people has become the biggest loser of the ongoing  political and military conflicts.

On the international level, Egypt has undertaken a series of diplomatic and political efforts to resolve the Libyan crisis, which revived the mechanism of neighboring countries that gave more flexibility to the positions of a number of Libyan politicians.

From the point of view of the international community, Egypt's role is pivotal and important in the Libyan crisis, which was confirmed by the UN Secretary-General's envoy to Libya for Egypt's contacts with all Libyan parties. This stems from its geographical proximity to Libya, which has a direct interest in restoring stability and security to Libya, as well as its current membership in the Security Council and its role in following up the implementation of the Security Council resolutions on Libya.

First: Egypt’s vision towards resolving the Libyan crisis:

On November 8, 2016, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry indicated through   Egypt’s speech before  the meeting of the AU High Level Committee on Libya, held in Addis Ababa, he explained the governing principles to support the political process in Libya, as follows:

First: Importance of unifying efforts, maintaining the integrity of the political process and the political agreement in Libya, in which the international and regional efforts are committed to the general framework of the ongoing political process.

Second: Importance that  the political process  goes in line with the aspirations of the Libyan people, without imposing any arrangements or agreements, so as to restore the institutions of the Libyan State to be  the only legitimate authority that has the right to use force to impose security with dismantling and demobilization of all Libyan militias.

Third: Neutralize all exerted efforts to support the political process, where any party that spoils the current political process is condemned, and encourage all parties to do their duty to implement the political agreement.

Egypt believes that the United Nations (UN) is the only framework for resolving the Libyan crisis. Therefore, all relevant regional and international parties must unite to support the efforts of the United Nations, particularly with regard to the follow-up the implementation of the Skhirat Agreement.

Egypt also supports legitimate political and military parties, whether the House of Representatives in Tobruk or the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar, and completely rejecting the idea of militias or irregular military formations not subject to state authority.

Second: Egyptian efforts to resolve the Libyan crisis

Through its diplomatic efforts, Egypt sought to the Libyan consensus, taking into account the national constants, the concerns of all Libyan parties, the full support for the Libyan State to establish its unified and democratic state free from extremism and terrorism and provide security and luxury for Libyans through a unified Libyan army protects them.

This can be achieved via several ways, namely, mediation among the Libyan parties in order to build confidence and unite those parties, which are carried out by the National Committee on Libyan Affairs. Egypt is also seeking a coordinated consultative process; both at the regional or international level with neighboring countries to contribute to the settlement of the Libyan crisis as a major stakeholder in the stability of the situation in Libya and to address the security imbalance as Libya represents a strategic depth of these countries.

Egyptian National Committee on Libya

The efforts of the Egyptian National Committee on Libya are working on intensive meetings with all Libyan parties in order to come up to point of views and building confidence among all the Libyan parties, where there are several meetings were held in Cairo, including President of the House of Representatives of Libya Aguila Saleh, Chairman of the Presidential Council of the Government of  National Accord of Libya Fayez al-Sarraj, members of  the Presidential Council and the Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan Army, as well as members of Libyan parliament, Higher Council of the State and representatives of  Libyan dignitaries and tribes, civil society, media-men and intellectuals from all Libyan regions.

Following a meeting held in Cairo on February 15, 2017, the Egyptian Military Spokesman confirmed, in a statement, including Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan Army Khalifa Haftar and Chairman of the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord of Libya Fayez al-Sarraj, that the Committee listened to the constructive ideas of the Libyan leaders.

The Committee concluded that there are common denominators among Libyan leaders to get out of the current impasse that can be summarized in the following steps:

1- Forming a joint committee selected from the members of Libyan House of Representatives and Higher Council of the State with a maximum 15 members of each Council to consider the issues previously agreed upon in the Political Agreement and to reach for consensual formulas to address it and then submitted to the Libyan House of Representatives to be adopted in accordance with the provisions of the Libyan Political Agreement.

2- House of Representatives shall make the necessary constitutional amendments to include the Political Agreement in the constitutional declaration, to address all outstanding issues within the framework of a comprehensive consensus formula issued by the House of Representatives after the joint committee agreed on it.

3- Implementing Parliamentary and Presidential elections by February 2018, in accordance with the provisions of the Libyan Political Agreement.

4- Continuing all official positions in Libya, to be agreed upon in accordance with the above-mentioned procedures, until the end of the transitional period and the new President and Parliament assume their offices in 2018.

Unification of Libyan Military Institution

On September 18, 2017, the Egyptian National Committee on Libya agreed on the formation of joint Egyptian-Libyan technical committees to be held in Cairo to discuss and review mechanisms to unify the military institution.

They discussed in the meeting the phases of the crisis in the army and the problems hindering its cohesion and unity over recent years.

They also underlined the principles to build Libya’s unity, sovereignty and safety and the ways to enhance comprehensive national reconciliation without dragging the disputes among the different regions in Libya.

They committed to establish a modern democratic civil state based on the principles of transferring power peacefully, accepting other, and rejecting the marginalization and exclusion of any of Libya’s parties.

Among the principles they pledged to follow are working on the unity of the Libyan army, shouldering the responsibility to maintain the state’s security and sovereignty, combating all forms of terrorism and extremism, rejecting any foreign interference in their affairs and seizing intellectual, ideological and regional conflicts.

On March 20, 2018, the sixth round of unifying Libyan Military Institution meeting launched and agreed on the following:

- Reasserting the firm fundamental national parameters of the Libyan army at the head of which is maintaining the unity and sovereignty of Libya, as well as, the need to keep the military institution away from polarization, whether political or territorial, that would negatively affect the Libyan army's professional performance and national role.

- The need to proceed in the project of unifying the Libyan army to make it capable of positively and effectively dealing with the challenges faced by the Libyan state currently and the future in light of threats to it, whether related to the threat of terrorism, illegal migration, organized crime, or any others that would threaten Libya's stability.

- Resuming the meetings in Cairo after a short intervals with the intention that the four technical committees complete their work regarding the implementation mechanisms and actual application of the national project to unify the Libyan army in accordance with its assigned tasks, as well as, to meet the requirements and needs of the Libyan state, and to overcome the challenges it faces in the fields of counterterrorism, securing borders, and combating illegal migration.

- Asserting that the path of unifying the military institution would constitute a firm core to advance the political path during this critical and difficult phase of the history of the nation, which is witnessing major risks that threaten its safety amid difficulties in achieving stability for the Libyan state to meet the aspirations and ambitions of its great people.

Cooperation with the neighboring countries

In 2014, the Libyan Neighborhood Group was established with the membership ofAlgeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan, Chad and Niger, where formed during the African Summit in Equatorial Guinea.

The neighboring Libyan countries, especially the direct neighboring countries such as Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia, are working to provide political and security support to Libya through a collective work to deal with the situation in Libya after witnessing the development of the threat coming from Libya in the recent period, and also after the security services observed the move of several thousand members of extremist groups from both Iraq and Syria to Libya.

Therefore, their efforts to support Libya in accordance with a joint mechanism of neighboring countries, in cooperation with the Secretary General of Arab League, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, have worked together to crystallize a common vision and a road map according to the will of the Libyans and their priorities, which are presented to the neighboring countries for adoption.

In May, 2014,the first step of this collective work emerged in Algeria, when the foreign ministers of Libya’s neighboring countries meeting held in Algeria on the sidelines of the ministerial meetings of the Non-Aligned Movement, which made several recommendations, including confirming the participants to work together to support Libya in accordance with joint mechanisms in cooperation with the Arab League and the African Union.On the other hand, the participated ministers stressed the need for coordination in order to combat terrorism and weapons trade.

In June, 2014,the second meeting held in Guinea on the sidelines of the African Summit.

The third meeting of the foreign ministers of Libya’s neighboring countries held in Tunisia. The meeting was attended by foreign ministers (or representatives) of Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Chad and Niger and representatives of the Arab League and the African Union.

The foreign ministers have agreed to set up a practical plan to contribute in resolving the Libyan crisis, where it was decided to form two working groups headed by Tunisian Foreign Minister, the first one is security at the level of security experts, where Algeria coordinating its works and the other one is political at a senior staff level, where Egypt coordinating its works.

The purpose of the two working groups is to enable the neighboring countries to intervene effectively through dialogue mechanisms in the Libyan crisis in order to find a solution to them or to deal directly with the threats resulting from the political crisis in Libya.

Fourth Consultative Meeting (Egyptian-Algerian Initiative)

10th meeting of FMs of Libya’s neighboring countries (Cairo, January, 2017)

The final communiquéof the 10th ministerial meeting of the neighboring countries of Libya stressed that there could be no alternative to adhering to the Libyan Political Agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco, as the sole framework for the solution to the present crisis in Libya, in accordance with the main principles agreed to during the meetings convened in Cairo, N'Djamena, Khartoum, Algiers, Tunis and Niamey.

Those principles are:

(a) Preserving the security, stability and unity of Libya and sovereignty over its territory and the unity of its people;

(b) Rejection of any external interference in the internal affairs of Libya;

(c) Preserving the legitimate State institutions of Libya and respect for the rule of law, while ensuring the separation of powers, and social justice;

(d) Preserving the unity of the Libyan Army along with the presence of a national police force to protect the nation, in accordance with the Libyan political agreement, to fulfill their duties for preserving the security and stability of the Libyan State and its legitimate institutions;

(e) Reinforcing the principle of consensus without marginalization or exclusion, and the commitment to a comprehensive dialogue among all the parties of Libya, and upholding the imperative of a comprehensive national reconciliation;

(f) Maintaining the civil State and the democratic process, as well as the peaceful transition of power in Libya.

The Ministers reaffirmed their support to the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord as derived from the Libyan political agreement which laid the foundations for a final political solution to the crisis. The ministers called on the Council to form a government of national accord representing all the political forces in Libya, and encouraged the Libyan House of Representatives to convene a meeting to deliberate on the newly formed government and grant its vote of confidence so that it may assume its responsibilities.

The Ministers expressed their determination to further pursue their efforts to promote the political process in Libya towards its success, and to foster the appropriate conditions for security and restoring stability in all the territories of  Libya, in collaboration with the appreciated efforts of His Excellency Mr. Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, His Excellency Mr. Jakaya Kikwete, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Representative of the African Union to Libya, as well as Ambassador Salah El Din Elgamaly, the Envoy of the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States for Libya.

The Ministers reiterated their categorical rejection of a military solution to the Libyan crisis given the negative implications for the security and stability of  Libya in particular, and for the neighboring countries in general. They furthermore affirmed that political dialogue was the sole path towards ending the crisis.

The Ministers affirmed their rejection of any foreign military intervention, emphasizing that combating terrorist groups in Libya must be undertaken in the context of international legitimacy, and that military operations in this regard must be based on the request of the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord pursuant to the provisions of resolution 2259 (2015), adopted by the Security Council on 23 December 2015, and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

The Ministers discussed the extremely dangerous situation facing the people of Libya as a result of the political and security crises and their numerous ramifications. In this regard the ministers expressed their concern regarding the continued presence of terrorist organizations in certain regions of Libya, as this presents a serious danger to the people of Libya and the future of the political process.

The Ministers stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation and consultation among the neighboring countries of Libya with respect to border security and combating terrorism in its various manifestations, organized crime and all forms of cross -border smuggling, and of continuing efforts to convene a meeting of experts to present specific recommendations on this matter to the next meeting of the foreign ministers of the Libya’s neighboring countries.

The Ministers praised the success that was achieved in confronting terrorism in the various regions of Libya, and especially in the cities of Benghazi and Sirte, reaffirming the importance of pursuing terrorist elements fleeing from these two cities so that they are unable to reconstitute in other areas throughout Libya.

The Ministers affirmed the central and critical role undertaken by the mechanism of the neighboring countries of Libya, as it is the most concerned with the state of instability in Libya and the most negatively affected by the ongoing crisis. In this regard, the Ministers called on countries and regional and international organizations willing to contribute to the resolution of the crisis to take into account the approach adopted by the mechanism of neighboring countries of Libya, and the positions of the group and its vision with respect to the current situation in Libya while considering any effort aimed at contributing to resolving the crisis, and that this be undertaken within the context of the United Nations political process.

The Ministers value the efforts undertaken by the neighboring countries of Libya and the recent meetings in Cairo, Algiers and Tunis, and their endeavors aimed at addressing the crisis facing Libya and containing its ramifications, in addition to their deliberations and bridging the gaps between the Libyan parties in order to reach a political settlement in the context of the United Nations political process, and including all the major Libyan parties in the context of a comprehensive Libyan dialogue. The ministers encouraged the neighboring countries to further coordinate with respect to these endeavors.

The Ministers expressed their concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Libya, and the difficult living conditions facing the citizens of Libya. In this regard the ministers praised the role of the central and local state institutions in the various regions of Libya in providing for basic services to the citizens.

The Ministers stressed the importance that the international community undertakes, in coordination with the legitimate authorities in Libya, to implement a humanitarian responsive plan in Libya during 2017, given that the Libyan people face acute shortages of medicine and medical supplies in hospitals and medical facilities in various regions across Libya.

The Ministers called for end the freeze on Libyan financial assets in foreign banks, so that these resources belonging to the Libyan people can be allotted to fulfill the needs of the country, at the time convenient to the Presidential Council.

The Ministers requested the Egyptian Chair of the meeting to convey the present communiqué to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the Security Council, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and the Chair of the African Union Commission.

The Ministers further requested the Chair of the meeting to convey their highest appreciation and gratitude to His Excellency Mr. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and to the Government of Egypt for their gracious hospitality, and for undertaking the necessary arrangements for the success of this meeting, and their efforts towards resolving the crisis in Libya.

The Ministers agreed to hold the eleventh ministerial meeting of the neighboring countries of Libya in Algiers, on a date which will be determined through prior consultation. The ministers furthermore agreed that the mechanism of the neighboring countries of Libya shall remain in continuous session in order to monitor developments in Libya.

Eleventh meeting of Libya’s neighboring countries group

The Egyptian,Algerian and Tunisian foreign ministries agreed on the terms for resolving the crisis in neighboring Libya.

The talks ended with the signing of the “Tunis Declaration” which included five points:

1- That the three signatories step up efforts to achieve comprehensive reconciliation in Libya through dialogue with all relevant parties and under the auspices of the UN.

2- That the signatories recognize Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and believe that a political solution – based on the 17 December 2015 Skhirat agreement – represents the only way out of the country’s political crisis.

3- That the three signatories reject any military solution to – or external interference in – the Libya crisis, acknowledging that a viable settlement can only be achieved by the Libyan people themselves.

4- They also called for ensuring the continuity of Libyan state institutions as was stipulated in the 2015 agreement. These institutions include the Presidential Council, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Council of State. Signatories to the declaration also called for the preservation and unification of the Libyan Armed Forces in accordance with the 2015 agreement.

5- Signatories also called for convening a tripartite summit in Algiers devoted to the Libya crisis (for which no date was given) to be attended by Tunisian, Egyptian and Algerian representatives.

"The Cairo Declaration" to support a comprehensive settlement in Libya

On November 15, 2017, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria issued a joint statement on the Libyan crisis called "The Cairo Declaration", following their talks in Cairo.

The statement is as follows:

1- Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry held a meeting with counterparts of Tunisia Khemaies Jhinaoui and Algeria Abdelkader Messahel for consultations on the developments of the situation in Libya and efforts to support inter-Libyan dialogue to reach a comprehensive solution to the Libyan crisis under the tripartite initiative of the three countries and to follow up the outcome of their previous talks in Tunisia in February and in Algeria in June.

2- The ministers reaffirmed their countries' constant stance and principles which rule their joint action to support efforts to resolve the Libyan crisis, topped by maintaining the territorial integrity and stability of Libya, commitment to dialogue and Libyan political accord as basis for a comprehensive solution to the Libyan crisis, and to reject any foreign interference in Libya or resorting to the military option.

3- The ministers appreciated efforts exerted by the UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame, expressing appreciation for the political plan he had presented to address the Libyan crisis. They called on the Libyan parties to show enough flexibility during current negotiations held in Tunisia and to seek to reach required accord.

4- In this context, the ministers reviewed efforts exerted by Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia over the recent period to achieve accord among all Libyan parties and to encourage them to respond to the UN envoy's efforts. They appealed to the Libyan parties to refrain from using violence and to resort to any form of incitement or escalating measures, stressing the importance of achieving a breakthrough in the course of settlement as soon as possible to pave the way to hold legislative and presidential election and to end the transitional stage in Libya.

5- The ministers discussed the latest security developments in Libya, warning of the continuous deteriorating security situation in Libya and its repercussions on the daily lives of Libyan citizens. They stressed the importance of continuing and backing security coordination, exchanging information and boosting cooperation in the field of countering terrorism.

6- The ministers lauded the importance of Libya's neighboring countries' mechanism and their vision to resolve the Libyan crisis to help the Libyan people restore security and stability.

7- The ministers agreed to continue consultations and to hold their next meeting in Tunisia on a date to be set later.

Meeting of supporting political settlement in Libya (Tunisia, 17/12/2017)

In the fourth coordinative meeting of foreign ministers of Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, the three countries renewed their support to the Libyan political agreement as the frame of a political settlement in Libya, welcoming the UN Security Council's statement on December 14, regarding the situation in Libya.

Tunisian President BejiCaid Essebsi conferred with the Foreign Minister SamehShoukryat Carthage presidential Palace. The two sides discussed the latest developments in Libya, where Shoukry reviewed the Egyptian efforts to support the political process and the plan of the UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamé, as well as the Egyptian exerted efforts to unify the military institutions in Libya, which enjoys the support of all Libyan parties and regional and international partners.

Joint coordination on migration

On October 25, 2016, the project plan "Improving the governance of labour migration and the protection of migrant workers’ rights in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya" was launched, where the project can play an important role in promoting the balance and the concepts of labor migration and improving its tools and conditions.

Ministerial Meeting of the Tripartite Arab Neighborhood Mechanism of Libya (May, 2018)

Egypt participated in a tripartite mechanism meeting on Libya along with Tunisia and Algeria. The meeting comes within the framework of the mechanism of the Arab tripartite neighbors of Libya, which aims to discuss the recent developments in Libya and the ways to support Libyans to achieve national consensus and reach a political solution.

During the meeting, the UN efforts intensified to break the stalemate of Libyan crisis and complete the road map by holding presidential and parliamentarian elections; additionally, the Egyptian efforts achieve its aim to unify Libyan military and combat terrorism and organized crime.

Egypt’s participation in the tripartite mechanism meeting comes within the framework of Egypt’s concern to support all the efforts to settle the Libyan crisis, build the national consensus and achieve political settlement for the crisis.

Egypt’s participation in the International Conference on Libya in Paris (May, 2018)

Egypt participated in the international conference on Libya in Paris under the auspices of the United Nations within about 20 countries as well as four international organizations, including the Arab League.

Egypt's participation in the conference comes in the framework of its keenness for an urgent political resolution to the Libyan crisis that would achieve the interests of the brotherly people of Libya, and its aspiration to regain security and stability in Libya.

Palermo Summit outputs

The Summit was held Palermo City of Italy on November 12, 2018. It aimed at getting Libya out of its chronic crisis and instability.

The Summit was attended by all parties of the Libyan conflict represented in the Libyan Head of the Presidential Council of the National Reconciliation Government Fayez Al-Sarraj, President of the Supreme Council of State Parliament Speaker Aqila Salih, President of the High Council of State of Libya Khalid Almishri and Head of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar as well as neighboring Libyan countries, European Union countries and Russia, in the presence of Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya Ghassan Salamé.

The final communiqué of the Palermo Summit endorsed Egypt's efforts in its main role in the process of rebuilding the Libyan military. This international support for Egypt's role can be relied on in the reconstruction of the Libyan State and crystallized an implementation work plan for building the military and the security institutions, considering that the return of stability in Libya is an Egyptian national security necessity.

Egypt’s role in Libya as a supportive role for stability in Libya is based on Egyptian foreign policy towards calming down the regional escalation in most areas of conflict in the region, which is supported by most of the international parties in the Libyan file.

The 12th Ministerial Meeting of Libya's Neighboring Countries Mechanism (Khartoum, November, 2018)

The meeting was held in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of Libya's neighboring countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Chad and Niger), the Government of National Reconciliation, Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya Ghassan Salamé, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the Arab League to Libya Salah el-Din al-Jamali and the Envoy of the African Union Commissioner on Libya Amira El Fadil.

The closing statement of the meeting adopted the Egyptian vision in resolving the Libyan crisis, that is based on:

1. Preserving the unity and sovereignty of Libyan territories, rejecting any external interference in the internal affairs of Libya and encouraging dialogue among  the Libyans themselves.

2. Giving the South region the utmost importance and calling for intensifying effective coordination among regional States in the fight against terrorism, violence and criminal activities.

3. Supporting the Presidential Council of the National Reconciliation Government, which emanates from the Libyan political agreement.

4. Welcoming all the initiatives taken to gather the Libyan civil and military leaderships to achieve a national unity and finding a way out of the Libyan crisis, including efforts to unify the military institution.

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