Ramadan: Libya between hope and chasm

Final leg in UN talks between Tobruk and Tripoli

12 June, 12:49

    Eid al-Fitr in Libya [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20120819 ] Eid al-Fitr in Libya [ARCHIVE MATERIAL 20120819 ]

    (by Rodolfo Calò) (ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JUNE 12 - Another Ramadan without Gaddafi.

    The fifth Islamic holy month of fasting lived in more or less apparent chaos is set to take place in a country getting closer to a thin line separating hope from disaster. These are in fact the days of the final stage, or end, of talks between Tripoli and Tobruk to heal at least the most significant among ideological, tribal and military rifts and all the things that are dividing the country, based on the ''divide et impera'' (divide and rule) principle on which Colonel Muammar Gaddafi ruled over four decades.

    Iftar (big family meals with sweet drinks when daytime fasting ends, this year among the longest due to the summer solstice), prayers and other traditions of Ramadan in Libya are similar to those of other Middle Eastern countries.

    But the atmosphere this year is dominated by the wait for an historic decision that must be taken by the parliament of Tobruk, the one recognized by the international community but exiled in Cyrenaica by pro-Islamist militia that since last August have conquered Tripoli: accepting, modifying slightly, heavily changing or rejecting the fourth draft of the accord put together by integrating the three previous ones by UN special envoy for Libya, Bernardino Leon, who is mediating in Morocco with Tripoli.

    Statements released Thursday in Cairo by the spokesman of the Chamber of representatives in Tobruk, Faraj Hashem, hint at a rejection of the fourth draft with a request to return to the third, which was however rejected by Tripoli at the end of April. In other words, things are stalling.

    Leon and recently German foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier have made it clear that there is no time to work on a fifth draft. Negotiations are in fact accompanied by disquieting news that Isis is advancing in the Gulf of Syrte, both towards the oil terminals of Ras Lanuf to the east and towards Misrata in the west.

    There is also the ultimatum launched last month by the Libyan ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi: ''I can assure that if there will be no results from dialogue, before the end of Ramadan the capital Tripoli will be under the control of the government of Tobruk''. It is the so-called ''military solution'', the ''takeover'' of Tobruk against Tripoli announced by army chief, general Khalifa Haftar, and supported by part of the executive but set aside in this phase, at least in words, by the belligerent sponsor of the Libyan eastern faction recognized by the world: the Egypt of ex-general Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who has actually been alone in showing that he really wants to do something militarily concrete in Libya with anti-Isis air raids on Derna last February.

    Italian foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, more diplomatically practical compared to Steinmeier, has accepted the hypothesis of tiny changes that would generate what can be journalistically defined as a second version of the fourth draft for a ''fine tuning'' of the accord, as diplomats would say. But in a country that has never witnessed any cohesion, an agreement on a ''government of national accord'', as defined in the draft, is considered in diplomatic circles in Cairo as difficult to implement already before the start of Ramadan.(ANSAmed).

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