Ten years later, Libya continues to sink into the abyss

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He will have survived a little less than ten years his leader, Colonel-dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Tuhami Khaled, the boss of the sinister Libyan Internal Security Agency, died last week, without this death (which remains to be officially confirmed) causing the slightest noise. Tuhami Khaled was nevertheless prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for a series of crimes against humanity and war crimes. When, on February 15, 2011, the police reacted violently to the first demonstration in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, the apparatus of repression was quickly put in place. From the first days, it is the head of the internal security services who will organize the arrests, “disappearances”, torture and rape of any potential opponent, these “rats” that Muammar Gaddafi had threatened to exterminate. His henchman was never really worried by justice, protected in his exile by the Egypt of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. And, ten years later, he took his secrets with him.

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The ultimate proof that, exactly a decade after this uprising in the wake of the Arab Spring, nothing has been resolved? In fact, the long winding road part of Benghazi has made countless detours, to arrive a few days ago in… Chavannes-de-Bogis, in the canton of Vaud. At the beginning of February, on the heights of Lake Geneva, an additional layer of confusion was added. Without anyone being able to predict whether this new stage could eventually become synonymous with a miracle. Or if it will only push the country further into the abyss.

Libya today consists of two distinct powers, two parliaments, two armies, two rival central banks which each issue currency … But it is also a proliferation of armed militias who enforce their law, quasi-mafia clans who the income from oil rents and the proceeds of trafficking are shared. Then it is also the intervention of a whole series of regional powers which have taken up the cause for one or the other of the parties. In Tripoli, Qatar, Italy and above all Turkey have hitherto supported the “government of national unity”, led for five years by Fayez Sarraj, and installed there, already at the time, by the UN. Opposite, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France and Russia have lined up behind Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

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White thread sewn exercise

The past is now in order because, in their meeting held in Chavannes-de-Bogis, the 74 delegates brought together by the United Nations (under the name of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum) decided to shake the boat once again. The mission of these delegates? Appoint, on the one hand, a new prime minister in charge of succeeding Fayez Sarraj and, on the other, the three members of a new presidential council which brings together the three regions of the country. Personalities who, in turn, will have to work for the “reconciliation” of Libya and prepare for new national elections supposed to take place on December 24th.

The exercise, in fact, was sewn with white thread. While Marshal Haftar, the strongman of Eastern Libya (Cyrenaica), seriously bit the dust after leading an assault on Tripoli that lasted fourteen months, the boulevard seemed open to install in power a duo composed of the powerful Minister of the Interior (of Tripoli), Fathi Bachagha, and Aguila Salah, the head of the parliament exiled in Tobruk who had presented himself as a serious alternative to Haftar. However, this scenario, to which the United Nations had lent its framework and which had the favor of many external players, suddenly derailed on February 5. “This beautiful construction suddenly became a mere mirage”, summarizes Jalel Harchaoui, researcher within the Global Initiative against transnational organized crime.

Instead of this favorite duo, the delegates elected “outsiders” who seem to have come out of nowhere. For the post of prime minister, the most decisive will be Abdel Hamid Dbeibah, a man who has no experience in politics but who, on the other hand, owes his relative notoriety to other factors: his cousin and economic partner, Ali Dbeibah, is thus suspected of having embezzled billions of dollars for his own benefit during the Gaddafi regime. Much more: to protect its financial empire, the Dbeibah clan notably “bought” armed militias in the coastal town of Misrata (west) where the two cousins ​​are from. These same militias which in theory it is a question of ridding the country.


In short: everything suggests that the new prime minister is one of the “kleptocrats” who are fighting for the riches of Libya and against whom Stephanie Williams, the outgoing UN official in charge of the file, intended to work precisely by encouraging the work of its Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. Cousin Ali Dbeibah was also one of the 74 delegates present at the meeting in Chavannes-de-Bogis, fueling the suspicions of a possible vote buying, which the UN promised to investigate.

“Who represents these delegates? What legitimacy do they have? ” wonders Moncef Djaziri, lecturer and researcher at the University of Lausanne, strongly doubting the results to be expected from this “opaque” process. He insists: “If we imagine that this transitional government is really formed and that it can organize new elections, what will we do with that? It will not solve any of the huge problems facing the country. ”

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In the immediate future, both Turkey and Russia continued to bring in men and equipment to consolidate their positions on both sides of the front line. According to UN estimates, some 20,000 mercenaries are now present on the ground and today make the withdrawal of foreign forces virtually unthinkable, as stipulated in the “road map” which should guide action. of the new executive.

The strange exercise that took place on the shores of Lake Geneva caused a lot of discontent and new alliances will undoubtedly emerge. Both will wait until the first opportunity comes to try to sabotage the process and claim, again, their share of the pie. “Libyan society is exhausted, exhausted by war and deprivation,” recalls Jalel Harchaoui. It is condemned to remain a spectator of these maneuvers over which it has no control. ”