Libya dialogue resumes in Morocco despite conflicting agendas

The second round of Libyan talks are due to begin today in the Moroccan resort town of Bouznika, south of Rabat, with the participation of representatives of the High Council of State in Libya and the House of Representatives.

Informed sources in Rabat reportedly said that the second round had previously been postponed due to a conflict in the agendas of the parties to the conflict.

The second Bouznika meeting will take place amid leaks about internal disputes in the Moroccan state institutions about managing the Libyan file, what local sources considered “external disturbances that seek to thwart the Moroccan role in resolving the Libyan crisis.”

The same sources emphasized that Morocco is managing the Libyan file in complete harmony and consultation among all components of the state.

The sources pointed out that the aim of the second Bouznika round of talks is to achieve consensus to unify the Libyan state institutions in the east and west of the country, form a technocratic government and restructure the Presidential Council, in addition to signing what was agreed upon in the first Bouznika meeting.

Ex-US official: Libya talks may keep Haftar away

On mid-September, former US presidential aide, Jeffrey Feltman, announced that the talks on the Libyan crisis held in Switzerland and Morocco were designed to exclude renegade General Khalifa Haftar.

In a research paper at the American think tank Brookings Institution, Feltman described the recent developments following the Libyan talks in Switzerland’s Montreux and Morocco’s Bouznika as “few flickers of light penetrating Libya’s deepening gloom,” adding that the talks were “designed to exclude Haftar, giving him an incentive to demonstrate he cannot be sidelined.”

Addressing the current situation in Libya, Feltman said the Libyan “misery is growing worse”, quoting a recent statement by the acting UN Special Representative, Stephanie Williams.

“COVID-19 cases are expanding exponentially in the country [Libya]; Libyans suffer from sustained electricity black-outs in the face of an oil blockade; social protests are being forcefully dispersed; fissures burst open in the Tripoli-based political coalition; and foreign arms shipments continue to make a mockery of the international arms embargo,” the US diplomat pointed out. “On the other hand, the military front lines in Sirte have remained largely quiet since June, and some political discussions have resumed,” he said.

“Whether these nascent and fragile bright spots symbolize the start of something promising or are quickly extinguished depends in large part on how the international meddlers in Libya react,” Feltman added.

The ex-UN official noted that Egypt would have “little interest in seeing an outright military fight over Sirte, given Cairo’s need to respond to any attempts by Turkish troops and Turkish-sponsored mercenaries to move further east.” He also explained that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was focused on “the Muslim Brotherhood”, adding that it was “watching the Montreux and Morocco discussions warily, ready to step in with cash and arms to prevent what Abu Dhabi would see as Brotherhood dominance.”

Libya has been divided since 2014 between the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and a rival eastern administration in Benghazi, where Haftar has dominated. There are also two separate Houses of Representatives each based in one city.