LONDON: Libyans are losing what little hope they have that the dire political and humanitarian situation in their country will be resolved anytime soon, a senior adviser to the US mission to the UN has warned.
Jeffrey DeLaurentis told the UN Security Council that ordinary people are “losing hope that their country can be free from corruption and foreign influence”, following clashes between rival factions in the capital Tripoli last week which killed 32 people.
The Libyan public, he added, doubts “that the armed forces can be unified and that foreign fighters, forces and mercenaries can be withdrawn.
“They are being deprived of basic public services while the powerful make deals to distribute hydrocarbon revenues according to their own interests, especially to militias controlled by various factions, depriving the Libyan people of their national wealth.”
The UN has made little progress in Libya since mediating a ceasefire and agreeing on a framework for national elections in 2020, as it failed to appoint a new special envoy to the country since November 2021.
The UN-backed elections scheduled for December 24 last year, meanwhile, remain off the table amid disagreements over the constitution and who is eligible to run, with last week’s violence between supporters of rival prime ministers Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and Fathi Bashagha, who each control different parts of the country, marking a new low.
Tarek Megerisi, Libya expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told the UNSC that the clashes were the first instance of the use of heavy weapons and artillery in Tripoli, controlled by Dbeibah’s national unity government, in the current stalemate.
Fighting erupted when militiamen loyal to Bashagha, who is backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, entered Tripoli in an attempt to overthrow Dbeibah, but were repelled by GNU forces. In addition to the dead, at least 150 people were injured.
“The result leaves Dbeibah stronger for now, but only underscores the need for a still-absent political process,” Megerisi said.
Dbeibah was endorsed in February 2021 as prime minister by the UN and said he would not step down until elections were held.
Bashagha, meanwhile, was recognized in February this year as Libyan prime minister by the country’s Tobruk-based House of Representatives. Each accused the other of aggression and corruption.
Karim Mezran of the Atlantic Council told The Guardian newspaper that Libya’s warring militias are “criminal organizations totally bent on power and money and grabbing resources at all costs.
“It is a mistake to consider them as political ideological organizations, but rather as mafia organizations that have a vested interest in preventing the development of a functioning state.”