Dialogue "Sputnik" with the Special Representative of the League of Arab States for Libya Salahuddin Jamali


The former Tunisian ambassador to Jordan, Syria, Egypt and finally Libya, Salah al-Din al-Jamali, was at the beginning of the popular protests in Libya that led to the departure of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

A few days after the start of the civil war in Libya, he met with representatives of the opposition factions. A special envoy of the Secretary General of the League of Arab States was appointed to Libya by the League of Arab States in November 2016.

Sputnik: To what extent could it have prevented the deterioration of the situation in Libya?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "The riots began immediately after the last League of Arab States summit in Tunis on March 30, 2019. During the summit, the Arab countries emphasized the importance of the peace process and the continuation of meetings of the Libyan political groups. a war broke out shortly.

Just before the summit, I visited eastern Libya, after a trip to the western regions, where I reported the situation in the country. She noted that there was little hope in political debates, even with regard to the National Convention in Ghadames (a Libyan city near the border with Tunisia and Algeria in the western part of the country) originally scheduled for mid-April but postponed. On April 4 by Field Marshal Hafer because of the confrontation. Residents of eastern Libya did not welcome the conference and did not expect a breakthrough in a peaceful settlement. However, it does not seem to me that war was inevitable and I did not expect to take such a scale.

Despite the fact that he (Haftar) was safe in the peace agreement, he did not expect anything important at that meeting. He knew that it was necessary to solve many problems and that in a few days it was difficult to change the situation. Like most Libyans, he does not want a solution imposed from outside.

Sputnik: Due to the April 4 attack, the National Convention was postponed under the auspices of the United Nations, scheduled for 14-16 April. During the interviews with Marshal Hafer, does not it seem to you that the situation is exacerbated by the lack of preparation for a conference?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali The decision was taken a few days ago, if not weeks, moreover, the impact of the surprise was significant, and behind it all was the fact that the leaders of eastern Libya did not believe that these negotiations would lead to anything. that negotiations that lasted several years, are disappointed with the result, because this is mutual, because even in the West there is no longer trust.

Unfortunately, before the war, neither side had a consensus and there was no trust between them. As is well known, there can be no negotiations if there is little trust between the parties. Maybe it happened because the two sides ask for power? Here is the problem in Libya: there is a war between politicians.

SPOTNIK: With the help of the militias?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "They used the militia for their own purposes."

Sputnik: Following the worsening situation in Libya recently, has the Arab League developed a strategy to restore the situation?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "At the same time, the Secretary-General of the Arab League was present when United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the latest version of the United Nations multilateral project alongside the African Union and the European Union. In the 2014 elections, which were raped by extremists, 400 observers were sent, ready to act again at any time if interested parties so wished.

SPOTNIK: So all you can do now is to be available to the parties involved?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali: As part of its recent summit in Tunis to support the United Nations initiative, the League of Arab States organized a quadripartite meeting (United Nations, African Union, European Union and League of Arab States). Antonio Guterres, Moussa Faki (President of the AU Commission – almost) and Federica Mugherini. Considering the peace process and the ability to appoint the parties involved to accelerate negotiations. At the end of this meeting, they noted with optimism that the Libyan parties had made good progress.

Sputnik: In your opinion, is it possible to overcome mistrust?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "No wonder there is a bit of mistrust, but not the indefinite postponement of the peace process and the continuation of the war, I do not think it's here."

Sputnik: There are more and more intermediaries, regardless of the trilogy of Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia, who coordinate their work in one way or another. Is there a danger of delaying a peaceful solution to the Libyan crisis because of so many mediators?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali The Paris meeting (May 2018) is also part of the United Nations peace process, such as the Palermo Conference on Libya (November 2018). As was the initiative of the president of Tunisia, Béji Caid Sibsi (started in December 2016). It was done to accelerate the peace process, so that mediators do not interfere with each other, there is only one way: the UN peace initiative. "

SPOTNIK: But when everyone walks the same way, there will be no crowds?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "Everyone is acting within the framework of the UN initiative, and the meetings are being held in the neighboring countries of Libya … I was at a recent meeting in Khartoum, which is working under the UN initiative and trying to avoid deteriorating situation in the neighboring countries. " There are people who pass through Libya to Europe, sometimes stay more than a year in Libya, become criminals, members of criminal groups, participate in illegal trafficking and join the ranks of terrorists. For the neighboring countries, particularly in the south For desert, because it is difficult for the countries to control the Sahel and Sahara borders regardless of their economic difficulties. The situation in Libya is a serious problem for them. Do not get these countries to speed up only a peaceful solution process, but also to find direct solutions to their problems.

Sputnik: Why not just solve the problem, but still more complex?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "International and regional organizations also support the peace process, apparently the great powers, unfortunately the latter have very different interests in Libya, which are not reflected in the official positions of the parties, which makes difficult a peaceful solution. in hydrocarbons and has a strategic location: over 2,000 km from the coast, the country is on the threshold of Europe, Europeans are interested in Libyan oil not only by the distance but also by the high quality of oil. "

If the international situation worsens, Europe can be reached from Algeria and Libya, more so than Nigeria or even the Gulf states. So European countries, especially France and Italy, and perhaps Britain, which has a strong interest in Libyan oil and traditionally have relations with Libya, have competing interests. "

Sputnik: These "interests" negatively affect the official position …

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "Yes, we can say that this greatly affects the official position."

Sputnik: Do you mean that these countries are under pressure from the national oil companies?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "Officially, they support the agreement process, for example the European Union, after all regional and international organizations, most countries support the resolution of the crisis in Libya at the negotiating table, for unity of people and land. it is necessary to combine it with the interests of each country on its own … ".

Sputnik: Even the interests of European countries are different, for example, the interests of France and Italy …

Salah al-Din al-Jamali: Yes, this applies to both oil, strategy and spheres of political influence. France's interests are mainly related to sub-Saharan countries. Italy has traditional interests in Libya, where ENI operates. Britain wants to maintain and increase its presence in Libya, like the United States. The African Command of the United States Armed Forces (AFRICOM) has bases in sub-Saharan countries. All this does not contribute to the restoration of peace. Western nations must be more forthright and show a greater desire for peace and not fulfill their goals at the expense of a peaceful settlement.

Now other countries are doing their part. I mean Russia. It will have to balance the situation, because it belongs to another alliance, not European, torn by contradictions with regard to Libya. Russia's political presence is highly desirable because it can provide a balance at the level of the UN Security Council at the negotiating table. Recently, Russia has balanced its position. It has a connection with Tripoli, with Benghazi. The various parties welcome the participation of Russia.

Russia certainly has its own interests, but not in the near future. Russia can think of them. It has economic and military interests, operating as an economic and military power. However, the presence of Russia is not less positive, because it does not leave the Europeans alone in this region and can strengthen the position of the Arab countries. They listen to it more, they are less aggressive than others in implementing urgent goals. It now has a significant impact on the international arena. In other words, its existence gives a new dimension to the Libyan crisis and contributes to a peaceful solution. The internationalization of the crisis in Libya and the participation of Russia may force Europeans to deal with this issue more seriously.

Sputnik: You mentioned the presence of the forces of "AFRICOM". Are foreign forces present in Libya now?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali: The media noticed a small American presence on the board AFRICOM, Arguing that it was necessary to protect the embassies. In addition, security forces are deployed to ensure the security of the embassy. I do not think there are military bases. But the Americans are present, intervening at their discretion. As long as the state of Libya is not strong enough, it does not control its borders, everyone can act freely for their own interests.

SPOTNIK: Given that the decisions of the League of Arab States are taken by unanimity, does it not force them to seek consensus and moderate positions?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali: "All Arab countries support Libya unity and unity of people and land, and all Arab countries support the promotion and support of a peaceful agreement … All Arab countries oppose military solution and support negotiations … "

Sputnik: But in 2017, UN experts denounced an Arab state in its report, which claimed to have provided logistical and technical support to Haftar?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "The report may be more balanced, given the location of the other camp, there are the interests of individual countries and their secret actions, but as the peace process progresses, it will disappear in the background."

Sputnik: With regard to the recent worsening of the situation, is there a consensus in the Arab League?

Salah al-Din al-JamaliClear. The main thing is not to support one side at the expense of the other. It is necessary to encourage the parties to meet, to sit down at the negotiating table, to abandon the logic of war and to follow the logic of negotiations and peace. It is impossible to restore peace by continuing the war. The League of Arab States hopes that the voice of arms will be silenced and that the Libyans themselves will probably come together after ensuring that the war does not lead to peace. This war could accelerate the peace process. This is a dilemma, but the fact: war can contribute to the negotiations. Sometimes they are made specifically for this purpose, in order to progress in the negotiations, there are many examples in history.

Sputnik: If you want peace – get ready for war?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "This principle was followed during the October 1973 war. I think Anwar Sadat said," I am fighting to bring peace. "

Sputnik: Do you think Sadat's policy inspired Marshal Hafer?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "If he can persuade the representatives of the various ruling parties in Tripoli and Benghazi to combine efforts in the war against terrorists, criminals operating in Tripoli and out of town, they can only be welcomed. in the interest of the Hafar government or army, living in chaos and showing their full strength in the absence of peace, in the absence of stability in the country, and then imposing the logic of chaos. how to work together … ".

Sputnik: Hafter criticizes the government of western Libya with insufficient activity in that direction and even in cooperation with the terrorists …

Salah al-Din al-Jamali: They can negotiate and cooperate. Confidence between the parties can help solve all problems. With confidence, a peaceful solution will move quickly. We need to gain confidence and strengthen it.

SPOTNIK: Do you think there are differences between the above trio: Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia?

Salah al-Din al-Jamali "Egypt has its own interests and Algeria has its own interests, of course, there is competition, but it can be controlled and overcome so as not to hinder efforts." The Tunisian president has proposed a tripartite meeting to coordinate those countries' security actions, where there are serious problems in this area: crime, illegal immigration and terrorism, as well as the presence of Boko Haram fighters in the south.


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