Tunisia’s Position on Libya at the Arab League Indicates Conflict Between Tunisian Prime Minister and Ghannouchi – Al Marsad

A rare Arab consensus on Libya was on display yesterday at the League of Arab States (LAS) meeting on its Resolution No. 8524 on the developments in Libya, welcoming the Cairo Declaration, reaching a ceasefire, and freezing the fronts. However Tunisia, Qatar and Somalia lodged reservations to the resolution. 

(Libya, 24 June 2020) – Only three Arab countries lodged reservations to some paragraphs in this resolution, namely Qatar, Tunisia, and Somalia, thus breaking the Arab consensus. This shows that the Government of National Accord (GNA) has only three Arab countries left to support it out of twenty-one countries, including Syria, which, despite its frozen seat and critical situation, declared its position in a separate statement consistent with that of almost all Arab states.

Qatar’s reservation related to operative paragraphs 7 and 8, which welcomes the Cairo Declaration and its initiative on Libya, stresses the need for all foreign forces present on Libyan territory and its waters to withdraw and refuse any advance of the fighting fronts to prevent the further confrontation. In other words, Qatar also refuses the ceasefire and supports renewed confrontations.

OP 7 and 8 to which Qatar entered a reservation.

Somalia has also entered a reservation to the same operative paragraphs 7 and 8, and strangely also the operative paragraph 11, which “obliges all external parties to remove all mercenaries from Libya and asserts the need to unify Libya’s military and security institutions within the political solution track, dismantle the militias, and hand over their weapons according to the Berlin decisions.”

In other words, Somalia refuses the removal of all mercenaries from Libya, notably the Syrians militants with ties to the terrorist designated Al-Nusra and ISIS, brought in by its ally Ankara. Its objection to the paragraph means that Somalia supports the Libyan militias keeping their weapons, and even rejects the outcome of the Berlin Process.

One may understand the position of the Federal Republic of Somalia, which manages the security of its capital, Mogadishu, from a Turkish base established by Turkey under the pretext of training Somali forces. The same reason is also applicable for the State of Qatar, the ally of Turkey and Iran, especially now that the latter has announced its support to the GNA. We should also not forget the Turkish base in Doha established after the boycott by three the GCC countries under the pretext that these countries were going to invade it.

However, Tunisia’s position is difficult to explain. It entered a reservation to the Cairo Declaration, while Algeria supported it. Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria are the members of the Tripartite Committee on Libya. What is even more strange was its reservation on the last line of operative paragraph 7, which warns against the consequences of moving the current fronts lest the conflict escalates. In other words, the implication of these objections would imply that neighboring Tunisia supports renewed fighting in Libya.

Such a position clearly contradicts the statements of President Kais Saied declaring his refusal for the continuation of fighting in Libya. His most recent statement in this regard was yesterday from Paris, announcing his support for the immediate and complete ceasefire in Libya. However, the decision today from the Tunisian mission to the Arab League objecting to a paragraph supporting the exact same position of Saied is another example of the deep differences between the President Kais Saied and the speaker of the Parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi.

What are then the motives of this “anomalous” Tunisian position? Tunisia did not jus deviatie from the consensus of the Arabs only, but also from the consensus of the Maghreb and African neighboring countries (Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania)—but in line with two countries that identify with Ankara and include Turkish bases: Qatar and Somalia. “Is there an influence of an unknown Turkish base in Tunisia then? Or is it just the differences between the Kasbah Palace and Bardo Palace, the headquarters of Elyes Fakhfakh’s government and Rachid Ghannouchi’s Parliament?”, asked an Arab diplomat who was surprised by the Tunisian actions at the Arab League meeting.

© Al Marsad English (2020)