Libya split is ‘most likely outcome’ of civil war: Expert

Libya split is ‘most likely outcome’ of civil war: Expert
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with Libya's internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj in Istanbul, Turkey, October 4, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 October 2020

Libya split is ‘most likely outcome’ of civil war: Expert

Libya split is ‘most likely outcome’ of civil war: Expert
  • Reuters bureau chief: Country’s fate ‘being decided by foreign powers’
  • Turkish intervention has transformed conflict

LONDON: Foreign powers have become the true power brokers in Libya, whose split into two is “the most likely outcome” of the conflict, said Ulf Laessing, bureau chief of Egypt and Sudan for Reuters.

In an online briefing on Tuesday hosted by the Council for Arab-British Understanding and attended by Arab News, Laessing said developments in Libya since long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s fall have been widely misunderstood by the outside world.

“Various armed groups took over the country (after Gaddafi’s fall), and they became police forces or called themselves the army. Then you had ministers, who were just figureheads sitting in ministries, who weren’t even as powerful as the men guarding them,” Laessing said.

“The main question now is: Who speaks for the state? Many people in Libya have access to a government letterhead or a title of minister, but their real power is limited,” he added.

“It’s very difficult, when you have two governments based in Tripoli and Benghazi, to get to the bottom of who represents the real state.”

Libyan militias, he said, are often backed by foreign powers that have entered the conflict in pursuit of their own strategic goals

One such power is Turkey, whose involvement in the conflict in support of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) has transformed the war, Laessing said.

“On the ground, the Libyan players have limited skills — they know how to run Kalashnikovs and old tanks,” he added.

“But now you have drones operated by foreign countries such as Turkey and Russia, and the Libyans have become side players. Their fate is being decided by foreign powers.”

As well as providing drone support, Turkey has sent advanced weaponry and artillery, as well as hundreds if not thousands of mercenaries from Islamist militias in northern Syria, to assist the GNA in its fight against Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army.

The result of this outside intervention, Laessing said, is an intractable conflict. “Diplomatic talks are going on but there’s no sign of any breakthrough. The UN has tried several times to solve the crisis, but the UN’s delegation never stood a chance,” he added.

“It’s hard to see how Libya can come out of this together. Since 2014 the country has been divided between east and west, and at this stage it doesn’t look like there will be a unity government anytime soon. Effectively now, Libya splitting in two, or a de-facto split, is the most likely outcome.”

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom
Updated 33 min 16 sec ago

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom
  • The 3 were released by Qatari authorities on Thursday and arrived in Bahrain via Oman
  • They were arrested while fishing, Bahrain says they were in territorial waters

DUBAI: Three Bahrainis detained by Qatar have arrived back in the kingdom after Manama helped to extradite their release, the Bahrain News Agency reported on Friday.
Bodybuilding champion Sami Al-Haddad, his friend Mohammed Al-Dossari and fisherman Habib Abbas were released by Qatari authorities on Thursday after they were arrested by Qatari coast and border security while fishing at sea, in two separate incidents. Bahrain said that the three citizens were in the country’s territorial waters.
The three men thanked Bahrain’s King Hamad and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad for the attention and care that they had received, which they said had a great impact on their release and return.
They also thanked the interior ministry, headed by Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah, and the foreign ministry, headed by Abdullatif Al-Zayani, for their efforts and the measures that contributed to their safe return.
The men said that they were proud to see the “patriotic interest they received for their cause,” both from the government and the Bahraini people.
Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its “profound thanks and gratitude to Oman for the efforts made by the authorities in the sultanate to coordinate and follow up on the release of Bahraini citizens detained in Qatar and to facilitate their return to Bahrain.”
The three arrived in Oman on Thursday following their release, the kingdom’s embassy in Muscat confirmed.
The ministry said that the release of the citizens by Qatar was “a step that reflects the spirit required toward resolving the outstanding issues between the two countries in order to enhance the process of cooperation between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.”
The statement also said that Bahrain hoped that Qatar would release Asian sailors who work on Bahraini fishing vessels, and take into account their humanitarian situation.
Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, ended a three-year rift with Qatar on Jan. 5 following a GCC summit in the historic city of AlUla, formally restoring diplomatic relations and opening their land, sea and air borders.