27/07/2020 – Morocco is seeking to regain its mediator role in the Libyan crisis, a role it had played towards reaching the 2015 Skhirat Agreement, which was seen as an agreement capable of resolving the Libyan crisis if all of its provisions had been implemented, especially the ones pertaining to the security aspect and ending the problem of the militias.
Morocco had previously criticised the Government of National Accord in Libya for failing to adhere to the Skhirat Agreement and for adopting a selective approach in implementing its provisions. Today, the North African kingdom seems to be pushing for a new agreement, “Skhirat 2”, based on the first one.
On Sunday, Khaled al-Meshri, Chairman of the Libyan High Council of State, arrived in Morocco on an official visit, at the same time as a similar visit by Libyan Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh.
The High Council of State issued a statement saying that “Al-Meshri is heading a high-level delegation on an official visit to Morocco on Sunday by invitation from the Speaker of the Moroccan House of Representatives, Habib al-Maliki.”
“During the visit, opinions and views will be exchanged on issues and common interests between the two countries,” the statement added without giving further details.
At the same time, Moroccan media reported that Speaker Aguila Saleh, accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Provisional Government (not recognised internationally) Abdelhadi al-Hwaij, arrived in Rabat, on a two-day official visit.
The recent escalation in Libya has worried Morocco and Libya’s neighbours in general, particularly in light of Turkey’s continuous threats that it will attack Sirte and the oil terminals, which were met with Egypt’s warning that it will intervene militarily if the “Sirte-Jufra Line” is crossed.
Before that, Egypt announced a “Cairo initiative” to resolve the Libyan crisis, an initiative that did not win wide international acceptance. Morocco has hinted on more than one occasion at its rejection of the initiative, stressing that the political agreement signed in the Moroccan city of Skhirat should serve as a basis for any realistic political solution in Libya.
At the end of last month, Morocco had called for the establishment of a limited Arab team from Arab countries concerned with the Libyan file, to set a strategic vision for a collective Arab initiative for settling the crisis in Libya.
In his speech before the emergency meeting of the Arab League Council at the ministerial level on the Libyan crisis, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita called for the necessity of opening up to all Libyan parties, listening to them and bridging their views.
Bourita also defended the Skhirat agreement. “Would it be possible to bypass the Skhirat agreement without an alternative that would receive at least the same degree of Libyan and international support,” he asked, noting however that “this agreement contains items that have become outdated and need to be updated.”
Bourita further argued that “if this Libyan political agreement is bypassed, how are we going to deal, in any future framework, with the Libyan parties that originally derive their legitimacy from it?”
The Moroccan minister reminded the Arab League emergency meeting of Morocco’s approach to the Libyan conflict, pointing out that this approach was based on certain givens like “preserving the national cohesion of the Libyans and the territorial integrity of their country and its sovereignty over all its territories, and rejecting any perception or indication of partitioning in the name of seeking to calm the situation.”
In the same context, he reaffirmed that “Morocco stands with the all Arab countries in defending their territorial integrity and national sovereignty, and rejects any interference in their security or stability, and it rejects any foreign interference in Libya, as well as rejecting any non-Arab interference in the Arab region as a whole.”
Morocco had hosted several rounds of Libyan dialogue before and after the signing of the Skhirat agreement, the last of which was the April 2018 negotiations between Aguila Saleh and Khaled al-Meshri, who is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Talks coincided with the Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan National Army Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s trip to Paris for medical treatment.
The Arab Weekly
Sahel-Elite (Bamako-Mali) | Photo: Signing ceremony of an agreement by Libyan factions on a unity government on December 17, 2015, in the Moroccan city of Skhirat. (AFP)