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Tunisian challenge in Libya

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By: Tarek Kahlaoui*

In a statement, could be considered the worst in Tunisian diplomatic history, Tunisian foreign minister, prominent leader in

Tarek Kahlaoui
Tarek Kahlaoui

Essebsi’s party, said, last week that Tunisia is using the customary principle of “lighter damage” in issues related kidnapped nationals in Libya. And that “there is no real state in Libya can be dealt with to release the kidnapped Tunisians, therefore Tunisia have to respond to the demands of the kidnappers for the release of Libyan prisoners in exchange for Tunisians”. Tayeb Al-Backouch said that justice agreements with Libya can’t be activated, which force them to hand over Libyan detainees, in accordance with the principle of “lighter damage.”

Truth is, that wasn’t the first, as we heard many poor statement coming from the Foreign Minister, the most famous is “Jihad Visa ” to Turkey, depiction of Tripoli government as “militia” while announcing sending Tunisian Consul, every time we think that we have heard the worst, he always surprises us and comes out with much worse.

That brings us to more important matter, which is the dilemma of Tunisian absence in what presumably the most vital diplomatic files with one of its most important neighbors, at a time when Libya witnesses sharp division, absence of state and the spread of chaos and terrorism, that directly affects Tunisia economic and security.

The latest official Tunisian presence in Libya was in summer 2014, especially in the international meetings during Libyan neighbors’ conference, called for and brokered by former president, Al-Munsef Al-Marzouky. Since then, Tunisia was absent from all international efforts concerning Libyan crisis, and especially after Essebsi and his party came to power.

Some supporters of Essebsi argue that this official trend is intentional, as the president and his advisers believe in the failure of all international efforts, so contribution is useless, and better waiting and come up with new Tunisian initiative.

It is true that the situation in Libya is increasingly complex. Once any agreement is done, differences and exacerbate internal divisions appear. Like what happened recently, as some Libyan parties, on both side, declined ” Shkirat agreement”, and news about efforts to dismiss Nuri Abusahmain, the president of the General National Congress 9GNC), due to his “intransigence and quest to disrupt the political dialogue and dismissal of the GNC envoy in the Shkirat dialogue”. Beside, conflict with “Tripoli revolutionaries battalion” and its leader Al-Tajouri. From anther side, the attack of Ibrahim Jadhran against his former ally General Khalifa Haftar.

Also, serious inquiries appeared concerning those involved in international efforts, especially after leaked e-mails of the United Nations envoy, Bernardino Leon, that uncovered his biased role towards the UAE, which made New York Times newspaper speak of “threat to peace talks”.

One of the biggest obstacles in front of Tunisian role in Libya is commitments the president made before the elections, especially that private relations with the UAE which tied any diplomatic initiative in Libya to the UAE support, either former or expected, specially concerning economic crisis in Tunisia, with the erosion of promises he and his divided party received from gulf leaders. All that limited his initiative to the extent of Emirati’s anger, hence his eagerness to consult with Egyptian party specifically with regard to Libya, like there is no western gateway to Tunisia with Libya.

It is obvious that the UAE intervention inside Libya reached insane levels, with adventuresome tendency that exposes it and made it vulnerable to many obstacles. Latest indicator for this uncontrolled intervention is the detention of Emirate’s intelligence official in Mitiga airport, according to Libyan authorities.

Terrorism powers usage of Libyan soils as logistics base for terrorist operations make any hesitation about intervening and follow-up from the Tunisian side a serious negligence that threatens national security.

The truth is, unfortunately, this situation is consistent with Tunisian official authorities’ negligence of any efforts or calls for the adoption of a strategic and effective national terrorism charges.

Instead of building on the draft strategy, which was prepared in 2014 and a national conference in which various stakeholders are invited, Foreign Minister, alone thorough un-known commission, prepared a draft of which the details have not been yet. In fact, Mr. Backouch does not do his basic job which is diplomacy, let alone carry out other functions.

Indeed, the current frequency and neglect in the Libyan affairs and foreign policy generally, is a judgment indicator of the failure of the current system in all areas.

If the decision of labor union to carry out regional sectorial strikes among the private sector is implemented, then we are facing the most important twist in the country.

The disruption of negotiations and the current impasse between labor Union and the Organization of Norms is an expression of the general impasse in the country. And certainly an expression of the failure of Essebsi’s ruling system, led by his cracked party (up to four slots so far) in the conduct of balances, maintain stability of the state and face internal and external challenges alike.

*A Tunisian Writer

Translated By LIBYAPROSPECT: Source