AFTER BERLIN II: WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE FUTURE OF LIBYA?
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed insights on the most significant developments in the MENA region, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on future scenarios. Today, we focus on the second Berlin Conference, where twenty-one representatives of national governments and international institutions with vested interests in the Libyan crisis agreed to push for a prompt withdrawal of foreign fighters from the country and stressed their endorsement for national elections in December.
The need to hold elections this upcoming December and the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country were at the center of the second international Berlin Conference on Libya, co-organized by Germany and the UN on June 23rd. The summit, which followed its January 2020 format, gathered representatives from Libya and a series of international stakeholders with vested interests in the country, including Italy, Russia, France, the UAE, the US, Turkey, and Egypt. In the presence of the Head of the Libyan Government of National Unity (GNU), Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, the international community welcomed the GNU’s commitment to organize the national elections scheduled for December 24th, 2021, while calling for a prompt withdrawal of foreign fighters from the country, with no further delays. In this regard, Turkey and Russia (which backed opposite factions during Libya’s civil war) have reached an initial understanding to withdraw 300 Syrian mercenaries from each side. According to the Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush, this tangible, practical first step will occur “hopefully within coming days”. Nevertheless, while significant efforts have been made on the security front, agreement around how to manage Libya’s economy — that includes structural reforms and a de facto reconstruction from the ground up of the country — appears weaker. Against this backdrop, the diplomatic scene confirmed the re-engagement of the US in Libya, as the US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Joey Hood’s latest visit to Tripoli and Secretary Blinken’s presence in Berlin for the conference on Libya demonstrate. Washington’s involvement could be crucial in mediating between Ankara – which controls several forces in Libya, part of them through a bilateral agreement with Tripoli – and other international actors such as Egypt and the UAE.
Experts from the ISPI MED network react to the second Berlin conference on the future of Libya.