“All foreign forces should leave Libya; Italy needs a long-term strategy.” Conversation with Ali Hamuda

By Vanessa Tomassini, this article is available in Italian on “Strumenti Politici”.

“The previous ten years, the Libyan file witnessed conflict and disagreement between the countries of the European Union, and in my opinion, they did not have a unified position. Now, I think that the vision has become clear, and the danger has come to haunt everyone. As for Italy, it is the country that has the greatest interest in the stability of Libya, but at the same time, it should work on the long-term future, not just the near one. The situation should not be exploited for temporary gains and current deals that may disturb the permanent relationship in the future. The interest of the Italian people is in building a true partnership with Libyans and not with outgoing governments”. Tell us Libyan activist Ali Hamuda, analyst and political advisor at Ihya Libya Bloc, the movement founded by Aref Ali Nayed, which declared goal is to transform Libya in a stable, democratic and prosperous country.

Dr. Hamuda, first let me thank for accepting this interview. How you see the SRSG Abdoulaye Bathily’s proposal?

“Since the first hours of Bathily announcing his plan for the elections, we as Ihya Libya bloc, have issued a statement supporting him. In our statement, we declared our concerns. We are well aware that all initiatives for the presidential elections in Libya will face challenges, but at the same time, we believe they are the only way out of fragmentation and collapse.”

What is your perception of the ongoing efforts by the HCS and HoR on the legal and constitutional framework for elections by the end of 2023?

“Unfortunately, the majority of the Libyan people, as well as all those who follow the Libyan political situation, have become certain that it is difficult for both institutions to agree on a formula to end their work. The Libyan street sees that Parliament and the State Council are clinging to power, despite their expiration date a long time ago. They have proven time and time again that their interest is in the continuation of the status quo. I doubt the seriousness of their work and I think it is more appropriate to bypass them so as not to waste more time.”

What do you think of the recent military talks between east and west (JMC 5+5) in Tripoli?

“It is important that the two sides continue to meet and dissolving obstacles in order to unify the military establishment. We encourage the continuation of these meetings. At the same time, it is important not to underestimate the role and importance of the chiefs of staff. Rather, they should be strengthened, supported and facilitated in their tasks to accelerate the unification of the military institution and the integration of the armed men under one military command.”

What about the meeting with Osama Al-Juwaily in Zintan?

“Osama Al-Juwaily is an important military party that should not be ignored and must be part of the ongoing military talks, and that is why the 5 + 5 visit today was to Zintan. These meetings should not get involved in the political conflict between Bashagha and Dabaiba. It should lead to the unification of the military institution, the expulsion of all foreign forces, support and protection of the elections, and a guarantee of acceptance of its results, and that the military institution should be far from political polarization and the electoral battle. The division of the executive authority we tried in 2014 and we saw its results. Waste of wealth and further deepening division, and this should not continue.”

Which foreign forces represent a main threat to Libyan peace and stability?

“All foreign forces pose a threat to Libyan sovereignty and impede stability, and all foreign forces must leave. The UN mission led by Bathily is doing a good job in this regard, and the Libyan military parties should also play their role in this file.”

There is a particular focus on Wagner group. Why and what’s the reason for their presence in Libya?

“The focus on Wagner is an extension of the US-Russian conflict. The presence of Wagner in Libya threatens southern Europe and poses a danger to Western interests. In the event of an increase in this presence, it will be a pillar for expansion in Africa. We Libyans do not want to be an arena for more international conflicts. We should also talk about the Turkish military presence and mercenaries from African countries. The logic is to get everyone out of Libyan territory. And to support the Libyan joint forces to extend their control over the entire Libyan territory. This is also the duty of European countries and the United States of America to support and assist the Libyans in expelling all foreign forces without discrimination or selection.”

Some observers accuse Haftar armed groups of involvement on illegal immigration, is it really so?

“The immigration file is a thorny issue in the absence of a strong elected authority. Most of international reports talk about the role of militias in the west of the country in this file, and I have not seen documents about the role of the armed forces led by Haftar in illegal immigration. EU and UN most recent reports clearly mention many armed groups leaders’ names, outlaw gangs and their involvement in human smuggling. Despite that, these personalities still move freely, and some of them are dealt with officially, locally and internationally.”

We also witnessed the recent return of islamists on Libyan political scene. What is their role and which possibities they have to rule the next stage?

“They are all Libyans and have the right to be present in Libya, working from Libya and for the sake of Libya, as long as they believe in the national state and elections and refrain from using violence to achieve political goals. We hope to see them renounce violence, terrorism and religious extremism. And any Libyan who possesses evidence convicting any person who supports terrorism must present it to the judiciary or announce and publish it. We have paid a heavy price in fighting terrorism in several Libyan cities in the east, west and south, and we should not be complacent or allowed again to embrace any supporter of terrorism.”

Bashagha and Aguila, the end of a love story?

“The issue was a wrong diligence and should not continue. Aguila and Bashagha should support the elections and end the parallel authority as long as reality proves the failure of the possibility of making it a single and unified authority for the country. Fighting corruption necessitates speeding up the renewal of legitimacy and pressure everyone to speed up the presidential and parliamentary elections.”

What is your perception of Egypt’ policy in Libya?

“Egypt is a neighboring country and we are linked by historical, political, security and economic interests, and it is in Egypt’s interest that Libya stabilizes and the conflict ends.”

What about the new strategy announced by Washington?

“Perhaps this strategy came 12 years late, but better than never. We hope to see partnership with the U.S. after supporting fair and transparent presidential and parliamentary elections. The role of Washington in the stability of Libya is important and pivotal, and the Libyans did not see any seriousness from Americans in the past. We hope that the U.S. role will help the 2.8 million Libyan voters who are seeking to choose their own leadership without procrastination or procrastination. It should also be supportive of establishing the principles of democracy, in which the most important element is transparency and the fight against corruption, and that there should be no duplication in any standard of democracy. Common universal human values do not bear double standards, and what is not accepted in their countries should not be accepted in our countries, if the goal is really to establish a state of law and citizenship under a real democratic system.”

How the U.S. will manage what seems to be a divergence between Egypt and the UAE? Is the recently announced deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran a game changer factor?

“The Emirati role is supportive of holding presidential and parliamentary elections, as well as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Just as I said, the brothers in Egypt have some questions that the mission should clarify. In the end, stability is in everyone’s interest, and the Libyan file is not currently considered a point of contention among the Arabs, and I do not see any change resulting from the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement. The negative international interventions currently in Libya are almost vanishing. The only conflict that may cast a shadow over the Libyan file is the US-Russian conflict in Ukraine.”