Unexpectedly, the Security Council failed to renew the mission of the United Nations mission in Libya for a year, due to a British-Russian dispute over a draft resolution prepared by Britain and rejected by Russia, deciding only to extend it until the end of this month.
The dispute centered on the imposition of sanctions on perpetrators of war crimes, and on the formula contained in the resolution regarding the exit of foreign forces and mercenaries, as it appears that it carried indications that the concerned countries, including Russia, had to remove their forces from Libya, while Russia preferred a wording that spoke of withdrawal only, which gives it more flexibility in dealing with the file without pressure and bargains, and locks up any space for Western powers opposing its direct military presence in Libya, as part of its strategy to establish a sustainable presence that serves its interests to expand and build influence in Africa.
The hardening of the new Russian position in the Security Council in the face of the British draft resolution can be understood, as a reaction to the American position opposing any political role of Saif Gaddafi, as expressed by the US Assistant Secretary of State, saying that Saif Gaddafi’s candidacy represents a problem for the world, while Russia is betting on him as an important card through which it can regain its former influence in Libya, especially with the decline of Haftar’s role, which she cannot trust because of his relationship with the American intelligence, and then his role will be determined by the stage as a justification for the survival of its forces, and as a channel of communication with the Americans.
Intensifying the recent international movements with the visit of the Counselor of the United States Department of State, Derek Chollet and his meeting with officials in Tripoli, and the expected high-level meeting in New York, which will be chaired by Italy in partnership with France and Germany on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, and what is expected of movements during the remaining time before the date of the elections, is to push the Libyan parties to agree on the electoral laws, lest the passage of time and then having to postpone, which seems inevitable, given the intransigence of the Speaker of House of Representatives and his supporters among the MPs. In the same context, the Egyptian move came at the invitation of Haftar and Aqila Saleh, two days before receiving the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity, Abdel Hamid Dbeibah.
It was expected that Dbeibah and Haftar meet under Egyptian sponsorship, but Haftar does not seem to be in the process of conceding and recognizing the government for fear of possible repercussions. His popularity is declining in his areas of influence, in return for the rise of Dabaiba’s shares, and if the meeting that Egypt sought for takes place, he will not be able to prevent the government from moving comfortably in Benghazi, and this will increase his isolation in areas where no one will be allowed to compete with him. However, the conclusion of several agreements and contracts of economic benefit to Egypt with the Dbeibah government indicates a remarkable development in the Egyptian approach to the Libyan crisis. This development will be reflected in Saleh’s positions on the issue of withdrawing confidence from the government, and disrupting the budget that Egypt will need to approve if it wants to activate the agreements on the ground and the beginning of the work of Egyptian companies.
The relative decline in the support that Egypt provided to its allies in the Libyan east during the past years, in return for consolidating the relationship with Tripoli and crowning it with economic contracts, was imposed by several variables, the first of which was the American trend towards calming conflicts in the region, the Egyptian-Turkish rapprochement and the disintegration of the Gulf front against Turkey and Qatar, but these developments in international and regional positions may clash with a different Russian position after Russia’s rejection of the Security Council resolution, and Haftar may find in them a last resort after a retreat.