The American foreign policy expert in Libya, Emily Estelle, was a guest on the US-L program on 218News and she analyzed the nature of the Libyan crisis as it echoes in the corridors of the White House and its weight on President Donald Trump’s agenda. She also highlighted the weaknesses of the US policy in dealing with the Libyan file.
Estelle said that Trump believes that the Libyan crisis is a European matter, and this is a short-sighted vision, according to her description, adding that if Trump wins a second presidential term, he will not change his policies towards Libya, but it will change towards Turkey and Russia, noting that Washington has already begun to increase its resistance to the latter’s role in North Africa.
Regarding what has been raised recently about the issue of disclosing Hillary Clinton’s emails and what was contained in them about Libya, in addition to the transitional period that Libya went through in 2011, the expert confirmed that this matter will not make any change and voters in the US will forget it within two hours.
Estelle said the US administration seemed to be contradictory about how the senior officials spoke about Libya. There is some support in Congress for a more coherent policy in Libya, but it is now disrupted by the elections and the Coronavirus epidemic. ”
She added: “The Foreign Ministry is starting to be more public about what the policy is and what are the goals in Libya. Part of the lack of clarity of the policy is between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which strongly supports the Government of National Accord, and the administration that has closer relations with some countries that support the General Command of the Libyan National Army. There is an opportunity perhaps to try to use this influence with those countries to try to unify the various positions.” She added.
The American expert ruled out that Washington could control the actions of Turkey and Russia, but she suggested the possibility of the United States playing a more active role.
Estelle considered that it is possible to pursue a more coherent American strategy in North Africa to establish American influence instead of simply criticizing the Russian presence, adding that the lack of a clear strategy is the main weakness of the United States, despite the fact that it has participated significantly in the humanitarian side in the conflict in Libya.
Choas of Erdogan’s mercenaries
The expert indicated that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sends mercenaries to Libya, but there is no evidence of their affiliation with ISIS, stressing that the United States must stand against the use of mercenaries in conflicts as it is considered a very dangerous matter.
On the other hand, she added: “I reached the conviction that ISIS will recover in light of the chaos and conflict in Libya, as terrorist groups usually resume their previous level of activity and do so when the conditions that benefit them are favorable and this applies to the case of the Libyan war.”
The American foreign policy expert on Libya said that ISIS was positioned in Sirte because it was an area between the two parties to the conflict, and that could happen again, noting that ISIS will become more present in parts of southwestern Libya due to the ability to stay there and make money from the movement of the local economy, which she described as troubling.
Russia: A unique role
Regarding the presence of Moscow in the Libyan file, Estelle said that Russia plays a unique role in the oil field at the present time, and has influence on reopening the oil sector due to the presence of Russian forces in the oil infrastructure.
According to the American expert, Russia wants to play the role of mediator in the Libyan crisis, and this was part of its goals for a long time, but it was playing an active role in the attack on Tripoli, and yet it maintained some relations with the reconciliation government.
Regarding the goals of Russia’s moves in Libya and the region, Estelle notes that these moves are part of a larger strategy across the Middle East and Africa, in an attempt to reestablish itself as a great power, and Libya is central to Russia’s grand plan to dominate the Mediterranean.
She added: “The deployment of Wagner’s forces basically strengthened Haftar’s position after the withdrawal from Tripoli, and the presence of Russian forces strengthened the negotiation power on Haftar’s side and enabled him to be able to sabotage any understandings.”
The “features” of the next phase
The role of the United Nations in Libya will depend on the positions of its various member states, which are contradictory positions on the Libyan file, as many countries have apparently ratified the UN resolutions, and then continue to do what they want to do, according to Estelle.
On the major shift in the oil crisis, the American expert says that the reopening of oil is partly due to the diplomatic progress that has been made over the past few weeks, stressing that revenue sharing is crucial to reaching a solution to the Libyan conflict.
She emphasized the weight of the forthcoming dialogues, saying that they would be very important, and it is likely that there will be some level of international oversight that could include the United States to ensure compliance with the upcoming agreement.
Regarding the constitutional track, Estelle says that the constitution is very important, and Libya will not move to the stage of establishing a peaceful government without introducing amendments to it, but she warned that the formal progress that has been made may collapse because it is not taken seriously by the players who have military forces on the ground.
She added: “It is likely that there will be more division and fragmentation if these next rounds of talks fail, as Turkey and Russia are establishing permanent sites for them inside Libya. This may reinforce the separation of eastern and western Libya.