Amid fears of regional instability due to foreign intervention in Libya, African countries are calling for the continent to be at the center of any political dialogue.
Rabat – African countries are increasingly pushing to play a much more assertive role in the Libyan political process.
The feeling is gaining ground in the continent after the recent Berlin conference on Libya was immediately followed by instances of participants’ unwillingness to respect their own commitments.
Gathered at a conference in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo, on Thursday, African leaders spoke of the need to be more assertive and present in the Libyan conflict.
Even as some African countries are said to have a preference for either of the two warring factions in Libya, the overriding consensus from Brazzaville was that Africa can no longer afford to be ignored in a conflict that is taking place on African territory.
The notion of Africa’s preeminence in the Libyan process, some analysts recently told Al Jazeera, comes from an increasingly popular belief that stepping aside and letting foreign powers play out their proxy wars in Libya will only be at the peril of the continent.
Key in this idea are fears that, with the Sahel’s already fragile security context, further instability and confrontations in Libya will leave countries on the Sahel corridor at the mercy of terrorist groups and other non-state actors known for feeding off political instability.
“The push for greater AU say is led by the countries bordering Libya, especially in the Sahel region, which fear the crisis will have a greater knock-on effect on an escalating conflict with armed groups operating across the region including in Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania,” Al Jazeera reported.
While participants at the Berlin conference, among them foreign powers actively or indirectly involved in the Libyan conflict, agreed on a comprehensive cease-fire, there were fears this would be yet another instance of non-commital, failed dialogue.
During the one-day conference in the German capital, there were signs that the pointed hostilities between rivals—the Egypt-UAE bloc versus Turkey, for instance—would not be resolved with one meeting.
More pointedly, however, the veiled attacks Turkey’s Erdogan and France’s Macron had aimed at each other reinforced the suspicion that Berlin could end up being another exercise in diplomatic vagaries and half-hearted commitments. Berlin was a scene of “talking peace, shipping arms,” as a Guardian editorial’s headline fittingly put it.
With this perception of hypocrisy has come African governments’ insistence that only countries with “no agenda” can be reliable brokers in Libya.
Echoing this idea during his recent meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was visiting Dakar as part of his “African tour,” Senegal’s Macky Sall insisted that Africa be at the center of “any search for solution” to the Libyan crisis.
“The entire African continent is worried about the consequences of what is happening in Libya,” Sall has been quoted as telling Erdogan. The Senegalese leader also emphasized that the way forward in Libya “can only be political.”
Meanwhile, Morocco, whose diplomats have been particularly vocal against “any foreign intervention” in Libya, led the anti-interventionist fervor at the Brazzaville meeting.
Rabat notably used the pan-African platform to draw attention to its own peacemaking efforts in Libya, in addition to stressing that Africa should be at the forefront of diplomatic efforts in Libya.
Speaking in Brazzaville, Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita argued that Africa cannot be left out of talks to resolve a crisis whose consequences are more acutely felt by Libyans and neighboring African countries.
Unlike non-African countries whose “cynical interventionism” has “worsened the situation while pretending to help,” Morocco “has no agenda” in Libya other than regional stability and peace for Libyans, Bourita said.
He called for an “inclusive political dialogue” to solve the conflict, adding that “Africa cannot be ignored in a conflict happening in Africa.”