By Vanessa Tomassini, this interview originally appeared on the Italian “Strumenti Politici“.
“I want to remember, as I said before, that time is not on your side. I would like to warn you that there is a direct cost for inaction and obstruction.” The UN envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams said Tuesday at the opening of the second virtual round of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF). Williams confirmed that today there are ten military bases in Libya – and not in any particular area – that are now wholly or partially occupied by foreign forces. “There are now 20,000 foreign forces or mercenaries in your country. This is a shocking violation of Libyan sovereignty. You may believe these strangers are there as your guests, but now they are occupying your home. This is a blatant violation of the arms embargo.” Williams added, urging the 75 Libyan personalities taking part in the LPDF to make important decisions without further delay. The discussions, which began with the face-to-face Forum in Tunis from 9 to 15 November, will now focus on the appointment of the new executive and key figures of Libyan institutions, amidst corruption and spoilers, both internal and external. The socio-economic conditions in the North African country and the UN projections in Libya, exactly in January 2021, there will be 1.3 million Libyans, in need of humanitarian assistance. But what is going wrong? What is the best solution to follow to solve the Libyan crisis? We asked the member of the High Council of State (HCS), Kamel al-Jatlawi.
Dr. Kamel Al-Jatlawi has been elected as independent for Benghazi in the General National Congress, in 2012. He moved to the High Council of State (HCS) under the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed in Skhirat, in 2015. He was a member of the Economic, Financial and Energy Committee of the General National Congress, now in the HCS. He has Bachelor degree in Geology, Master of Business Administration, Masters of Environmental Sciences, Doctor of Strategic Planning, Economic Reference based on market capitalism with responsibility and social protection for low-income people.
-Dr. Jatlawi, first of all, let me thank you for accepting this meeting. As a HCS member, how do you see the ongoing Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. What progress has been made and on which points are you most perplexed?
“The only reference for the Libyan political solution under the resolutions of the Security Council and the Berlin conference, as mentioned in the paragraph 25, is the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed in 2015, in the city of Skhirat, in Morocco. That addressed the political division and did not address the problem of the primitive tribal organizational structure of Libya. The Libyan Agreement came as a result of the international community and the United Nations (UN) understanding that Libya and the Libyans want a government as a result of the weakness of the Skhirat results with an objective understanding of the origin of the conflict in Libya, which make understand that Libyans want to share positions, ministries and budgets. The UN and the international community’s mediators in the strenuous efforts to find a formula that satisfies the parties of the conflict, during the Skhirat Dialogue, they do not know that the core of Libya’s problem which has continued until now. The real problem of Libya is that the Country still relies on an indisputable and neat primitive administrative organizational structure not able to solve any issue. And no one had told them that. They do not expect or believe that a country in this world, in this century still depends on a primitive and tribal combination that dates it back to the pre-Middle Ages. The international community could have helped the Libyans resolve their real problems if this same international community had found true Libyans capable of understanding their matter and ask for help to solve them, instead of forming governments and sharing positions, powers and memberships. The Libyans did not think about the root of the crisis and the search for its solution. And unfortunately, the UN and its envoys in Libya main concern is the political work. They did not focus on addressing the essence of the conflict with the UN’s experience about the actual causes of this conflict. The UN did not appoint an assistant to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative to reach an economic reform for Libya, necessary to bring out the country from this dark plunder, despite the Mission added the economical track”.
-What are the solutions?
“There are two types of political solutions. The first occurs when it is «a goal» or «an intention» in itself, the second type occurs when a political solution is «a mean» to reach a purpose or an end. The difference between the two cases represents the main topic and the understanding of this difference would save Libya and its people from the bloody conflict and several disappointments. For the first type, when the political solution is a goal and an intention in itself, took place frequently in Libya during the last years. And the results are not concealable, as the main objective of this political solution is always to form something called government. The dilemma of our country is that its administrative organizational structure is designed to be a government, that is everything and there is anything else except it. Access to the Government means automatically access to the treasure cave, where the spoils are accumulated for free and without the practical need to do any work or assume any responsibility, except if there is some conscience. In this case, access to government positions becomes the goal and the purpose for the people. The competition becomes limited to sharing positions and budgets under a primitive public financial system destined to not work. Lists of leaks come to surface, this one is a candidate for this position and the other one is a candidate for the other position. The public races to exchange these leaks and show the names of the lucky ones in a ridiculous way. The disastrous consequences of this king of political solution is something that can’t be hidden. In the second type of political solution, providing a mean for the sake of a specific goal or a scope, the human natural situation is the objective. Therefore, and to achieve and embody it, the government provide human life conditions for its citizens, create opportunities for them. The Government ensures them the natural right to contribute to the building of their country through practical, real, measurable projects. Countries are not built by governments, but by its own citizens who possess their homeland and its resources in a direct and accurate way. As for the government, its role is centred on the task of defense and organizing, such as protecting the external borders, providing security, representing the state, applying laws, settling disputes, and other sovereign tasks. All of these tasks are realized without impinging on the returns of natural resources and economic activities which are the inherent jurisdiction of citizens. This Government does not dominate the people resources and does not exercise guardianship. In contrary, it receives only a specified agreed rate of return for economic activity by the citizens in the form of taxes and fees to cover the costs of its tasks. This is the natural political solution that is successfully applied by all conscious nations worldwide, and a practical way and mean of implementing real and accurate results. Continuing experiencing the first type of solution, the leakage of lists, and the sharing of positions will end up with only one thing, which is the continuation of the same useless cycle. This is certain and it will continue until God decides to put an end to this absurdity and move toward a natural political solution that is merely a means in order to reach the goal of building a modern State owned by its own citizens. The way to achieve this goal is well known, and the practical means are available and proposed in the HCS draft through the practical framework of the principles of small government from the proposal of Professor Abdul Hakim Al-Thlib. Otherwise, it is a re-propose of failed experiments that have caused the bloody conflict among the people of the country”.
-What do you think of the House of Representative’s talks in Morocco?
“In order for the political dialogue to succeed and ensure the transition to stability, it is necessary to unify the House of Representatives (HoR) to carry out its tasks in partnership with the High Council of State, as indicated in the LPA”.
-Do you think that the president of HoR, Aguila Saleh Issa, and the president of the HCS, Khaled al-Meshri, will have a role in the next phase?
“The role of the two Presidents, Counsellor Aguila Saleh, and Mr. Khaled Al-Meshri, is to guide respectively the House of Representatives and the Supreme Council of the State in implementing the political agreement by supporting the UN Mission and the international community. They have to ensure that unelected figures will not be involved in any political dialog related to the modification of the LPA, as they will be subject to appeal before the Libyan courts. Anyone has a political ambition must pass through the HoR and HCS. Also, the two presidents have an important role to play in achieving reconciliation and peaceful coexistence, taking benefit from the Harabi Charter signed in Eastern Libya in 1946 and the reconciliation agreement between Tawergha and Misurata reached in western Libya in 2017. The political solution is the transition from the totalitarian central system to democratic pluralism. It is not easy and it is very challenging. It needs political, economic and social change, and the UN mission’s call for figures from outside the HoR and HCS to form a political dialogue committee, entrusted with amending the political agreement violates the LPA and it is subject to appeal. It was better for UNSMIL to call as many members of the HoR and HCS to amend the political agreement. It was better now to restore the current Presidential Council through the Parliament and High Council, assigning a new Prime Minister with liberal economic thoughts to reduce public spending and benefit from money of development projects through the Libyan private sector and turning administrative contracts into investment contracts to increase development projects. Also, for the people to head a positive competition to achieve growth and prosperity”.
-How you evaluate the work done by the Prime Minister, Mr. President Fayez al-Serraj in these five years?
“Mr. Fayez Al-Serraj has received huge support from the UN Security Council. Unfortunately, he did not benefit from it to achieve stability due to his weakness in the economic concept of development. When a Government is led by an economic figure convinced by free economy and market capitalization, Libya will reach the elections with the smallest damages because the people cannot go to elections under the current circumstances and participation will be very weak.”
-Among the names that are circulating these days as Prime Minister of the new executive, there is that of Moin El-Kikhia. What do you think of him?
“Mr. Moin Al-Kikhia is a key figure with great knowledge of the free economy and needs for market capitalism. He is originally from western Libya and now resident in the East. He is one of the consensual figures between East, West and Southern Libya.”
-And about the minister Fathi Bashagha?
“Mr. Fathi Bashagha made great things in the Ministry of the Interior and achieved security in a good proportion in Western Libya, in addition to restructuring the Ministry and fighting against corruption.”
-What you think about Mr. Ahmed Maiteeq?
“Unfortunately, his role in the Presidential Council was weak and he played little part in the path toward market capitalism despite of his presence on the head of the executive. Development, growth, stability and prosperity are achieved in the private sector under market capitalism, thus improving the security situation and providing goods and services, which were underpinned by the abolition or replacement of commodity to cash support. In addition, to the new law, which provides the unification of the exchange rate of the public and private sectors, and the opening of plans and to head for development under the law 23/2010 and the law of 9/2010, defining Libya’s economic identity”.
-Do you think the ceasefire will work? And how you evaluate the role of Egypt and Turkey in Libya?
“Unfortunately, the ceasefire remains fragile and vulnerable despite the military balance. Egypt has geographical ties with Eastern Libya, and Turkey has ties with Libya, and in particular with Misurata, for hundred years. Many Libyans are from Turkish origins. Egypt and Turkey played both a very important role in supporting stability in our Country. Turkey, in particular, by signing an agreement with the legitimate Government of Libya, in accordance with Security Council resolutions, to train and conduct security and military consultations, as well, the maritime agreement. The Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement will reflect in Libyan stability. This is what Ankara and Cairo seek to achieve, because regionally and internationally, they will benefit first of it in terms of fighting terrorism, extremism and illegal migration. Libya, according to its commitments, contributes to regional and international development projects, especially energy projects and transit trade to Africa”.
How you evaluate the security situation in the capital?
“The security situation in Tripoli, and generally in Western Libya had improved significantly as a result of the positive role played by the Interior Ministry in the GNA”.
At what point is the constitutional law?
“The Constitution is important for the stability of Libya and the draft made by the founding committee has a lot of confusion, especially the end of the organization before voting on a project under a political agreement and neither the flag, nor the anthem and the preamble of February Revolution was included in the constitution. The number of senators between the provinces was not equal to preventing the private sector from its role in development, and Benghazi was not defined as an economic capital, resulting in the disapproval of the draft constitution from a big class of the Libyan people. The solution in the return according to the political agreement is through a joint committee of the HoR and the HCS to amend the constituent body that has to write the draft according to their notes. Also, the choice of voting on it may be from the two bodies without passing through the people as the Constitutional Assembly, the HoR and the HCS are directly elected from the people. However, the other option is to return for five years at the previous constitution of The State Independence, signed in 1951. Laws and regulations are already in place and can be directly activated.”