The Address | Benghazi – Libya
BENGHAZI – The long-waited Palermo conference on Libya is finally upon us. The Sicilian hotel of Villa Igiea will house Libya’s rival actors along with foreign diplomats and international representatives during the next few days.
Little is known about what will happen inside the corridors of the Italy-hosted conference, however, Director of Salam Centre for Research and Decision-making Support in Benghazi, Faraj Najem, tells The Address what he thinks the scenario is going to be in the corridors of Palermo conference.
According to Najem, “Italy believes Libya’s file is its own, and certainly has nothing to do with France, and Libya is historically “Italy’s fourth shore”, much like Sicily and it’s Palermo capital.”
Najem says “Italy wants to ensure the support for its proxy government of [Fayez] Al-Sarraj and his Islamists’ allies and militias.” The effectiveness of this “proxy government” was called into question after it stood paralyzed as its funded militias were fighting each other in clashes that took the lives of more than a hundred civilians in the course of one month in Tripoli.
Najem also says that Italy wants to ensure support for economic and finance reforms after weaknesses and loopholes were discovered in it, that twinned with expulsion of the East representative (Fathi Majbari) in Presidential Council, and handing over of this particular sensitive file of money and economics to Ma’itiq Ahmed Maiteeq and controversial new minister of economics, Ali Essawi, who is wanted by the Attorney General in Benghazi over the assassination of General Abdel-Fattah Younis back 2011.
Najem stated that another goal of Italy is to ensure support for the security arrangement and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord to recycle Tripolitanian militias. This is in order to bring about a deal with its opposite number in Misurata especially after appointing the strong Misratan militiaman, Fathi Bashagha, to be the Minister of Interior to an effort to reconcile his rather infamous role in “Libya Dawn Operation” in 2014, which led to much of the destruction in Tripoli but much more in Benghazi.
“There will also be emphasis on the assumed illegitimate status of institutions that were endorsed by the House of Representatives including Interim Government and Baida’ Central Bank of Libya… etc, and the need to dismiss them as soon as possible.” said Najem
When in it comes to Cyrenaica, Najem tells The Address that Italy seeks to create a rivalry between the House and the Libyan National Amy (LNA) in order to strip the army from its legitimacy. “There is a realization that the strength of so called “Power of Legitimacy” in the East lies in the hands of the army and it’s leadership. Therefore, there must be an attempt to drive a wedge between President of the House, Aguila Saleh, and the military by offering him a meaningless position in the Presidential Council.”
“Finally the file of unifying the military must be withdrawn from Egypt and come under UN auspices exactly the way they lured the parliament in 2015 into a dialogue with MPs who refused to take oath, and slowly but “clinically to kill it” in a wishful effort like the way they wanted Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar to be when he disappeared from Media gaze in France for a few weeks. The hidden plan is disruption, or for better, the destruction of LNA that will enable them to subdue the East; as one Western observer highlighted”, Najem concluded.