10/07/2020 – It is remarkable that the Iraqi government doesn’t not take place in the Libyan conflict scene, the most critical and dangerous political-military conflict in the Middle East; despite Iraq’s important political weight in the region.
While Iraq has somehow been able to find a political-economic coexistence among its components in the post-Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, and the adoption of the new constitution in 2005, Libya, on the other hand, has so far been unable – despite the overthrow of Muammar Al-Gaddafi and his death in 2011 – to find an alternative stabilized system.
To understand Iraq’s apparent absence from the Libyan conflict scene, we must read the situation carefully. Iraq is at the heart of the joint Arab action and has ties and great interests in politics, economy, and security with regional and international states.
Since the Iraqi parliament selected Fuad Hussein as minister of foreign affairs by the Iraqi parliament on June 6th, only a single position has been issued on behalf of the Iraqi government regarding the Libyan war, as the new minister participated in the emergency meeting of the council of the Arab League in Cairo on Tuesday; to discuss the Libyan developments and the crisis of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Many countries’ positions overlap in the Libyan conflict; Turkey, France, Egypt, K.S.A., U.A.E., Russia, Qatar, Algeria, Tunisia, U.S.A., Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Sudan. The Libyan conflict occupies the interests of the mentioned countries; television screens, newspapers, and news sites are overwhelmed with news about the Libyan war, because of the repercussions of the strife and its clear effect on the interests of the political forces, and on the stability of the whole region.
Hussein Allawi, National security professor at Al-Nahrain University told Shafaq News agency, “The Libyan crisis is one of the most important crises in the Middle East”. He also warned, “The security situation in Libya has negative repercussions on the region, as Libya can be extremist groups focal; as the case with Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups in Africa”.
Therefore, it does not seem normal that Iraq is absent in this conflict and its political, economic, and security ramifications. Though Fuad Hussein expressed the official position of Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s government immediately after he took over his ministerial portfolio, that the foreign affairs ministry will continue to build balanced relations that serve the interests of Iraq, also, the priorities of the government will be to enhance relations with the world without veiling the clarity of the Iraqi position on the Libyan crisis.
Allawi, however, talked Shafaq News agency about unannounced Iraqi estimates from Libya, « the estimates of the Iraqi intelligence service identified the situation in Libya as a nest of conflicts that could explode and turn this national state – after the collapse of Al-Gaddafi regime – to a socially fragmented, failed state”.
“It is a complex crisis linked to a domestic-local conflict, international-regional conflict with terrorist groups, as well as regional-international conflict between projects pour in favor of Russia, U.S.A., France, and Italy; on the other hand, Turkey and Libya’s proximity to the Egyptian national security system. That is the reason behind the Secular-Islamic conflict with the intellectual currents; in addition to the Takfirist (A Takfiri is a Muslim who accuses another Muslim of apostasy) currents inside Libya, which further complicates the Libyan scene “, Said Allawi, summing up the Libyan scene.
Perhaps, it is this complicated overlap that makes the Iraqi situation somehow blurry. It is thought that Baghdad does not want any elements of tension that would result from contradicting regional and international capitals, with which, it has good relations.
For example, Turkey is biased in the Libyan conflict to the Government of National Accord, headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj; which the U.S. considers « officially » the legitimate government in Libya. While the Libyan parliament considers Al-Sarraj’s government illegitimate as it has not gained the confidence of the council of representatives, was rejected twice and has not been sworn in.
The Libyan Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh addressed this constitutional problem by saying, « The 2015 Skhirat Agreement resulted in the so-called Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord, which failed to meet the agreed commitments; the most important of which being, the term of the government is one year ».
Therefore, the other power in eastern Libya – represented by field marshal Khalifa Haftar and backed by Egypt, K.S.A., and U.A.E. – has grown, while Turkey and Qatar support Al-Sarraj’s government and finance its forces and allied militias in western Libya and the capital Tripoli.
It has not been long since the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “the last developments in Libya, northern Iraq and Idlib (located in northern Syria) have shown how strong Turkey is”.
While the contradictory U.S. position is focused on monitoring the Russian influence in Libya, the Iraqi government may find itself in a difficult position. Aligning with the Government of National Accord would create tensions with Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, as well as Paris, on the other hand, supporting the Benghazi government in the east would create a crisis in its relations with Ankara.
So, has Al-Kadhimi’s government adopted the principle of « dissociation », expressing its position on the Libyan war, considering it the least dangerous option?
Allawi stated to Shafaq News agency, « Iraq does not want to interfere and align with one side against another, for the conflict is very complicated. But Iraq will be with all the solutions that will restore Libya’s security and stability, and will deal with the Libyan issue through the work of the Arab League and through the work of the UN mission and the UN Security Council resolutions, which support stability and security in Libya”.
What could be described as Baghdad’s only official comment on the Libyan developments was issued on June 23rd. During his participation in the emergency meeting of the Arab League, Fuad Hussein said “Iraq emphasizes the rejection of foreign interventions in the affairs of Libya and the need to maintain its unity, government and people, stressing the need to resolve differences peacefully and unite the word to prevent foreign interference in Arab affairs. Iraq supports all regional and international initiatives that help promote security and stability in Libya”.
According to what Allawi said, the international and regional community must stop the external intervention, the Turkish tide, and stop the axes that fuel the Libyan internal conflict; and added that this is the only choice for the Libyan state.
It is going to be important to follow up on whether the Libyan conflict – particularly given the current French-Turkish tension in the Mediterranean waters around Libya – would have negative repercussions on the stability of the entire region, and whether Iraq will still be able to hold on to its current state of dissociation.