The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), which met in Geneva on 6 February 2021, has reached an agreement on the choice of the leadership of the executive authority for the transitional phase responsible for holding the parliamentary and presidential elections on 24 December 2021. While the results of the vote came as a surprise, they reflected the scales and stakes of the current political conflict in Libya in the prospect of reaching a final deal for the political solution.
In the light of the declared trends of the administration of US President-elect Joe Biden regarding his foreign policy, speculations prevail about adverse policies and positions that are likely to be taken by his administration vis-à-vis both Russia and Turkey on a number of issues. This raises questions about the status of the Libyan conflict within those forthcoming positions of the new administration towards the two countries.
On 16 January 2021, Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi announced a cabinet reshuffle which included 11 ministerial portfolios, including the ministries of justice and the interior. Afterwards, the country fell into a constitutional-political crisis after President Qais Saied refused to receive the new ministers who were chosen by Mechichi to take the oath after gaining Parliament’s confidence on 26 January 2021, on the grounds of suspicions of corruption and conflict of interests hovering around some of them. The Tunisian President also announced his objection to the measures that accompanied the reshuffle because, in his opinion, they lack a constitutional basis.
After weeks of the stalemate which followed the failure to reach a consensus among the participants in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), held in November and December 2020, over the mechanisms for selecting government office holders, as well as the faltering attempts to unify the divided parliament, the political settlement talks in Libya were resumed at the beginning of 2021, in conjunction with some regional and international moves in support of preserving the existing ceasefire. On the other hand, serious indications emerged of the presence of a large-scale military build-up. Those indications are mutually accumulating on both sides of the conflict, in addition to the occurrence of low-intensity clashes, coinciding with an escalation of rhetoric by the military parties to the conflict.
Over the last weeks of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, many signs have accumulated of rifts and a realignment between the actors of the camp affiliated with the Government of National Accord (GNA). It can be said that these tensions revolve around the competition over the restructuring of power, against the background of the settlement talks and the related redrawing of the map of security and military influence between the actors of this camp.
Tensions have recently escalated at the Guerguerat (also Karkarat) border crossing between Morocco and Mauritania, which is located in a buffer zone guarded by United Nations (UN) forces within the Western Sahara region, after armed elements of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario), on 21 October 2020, infiltrated into this region and disrupted the movement of civilians and commercial goods through this crossing, and sought to obstruct the work of military observers working with the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), who are tasked with monitoring respect for the ceasefire between the Moroccan and Polisario sides. This prompted the Moroccan army to intervene, announcing on 14 November 2020 its success in fully securing the buffer zone. Nevertheless, the possibility of escalation persists in light of the announcement by the Polisario Front of the end of the commitment to the 1991 ceasefire agreement with Morocco, which could pave the way for an overall military confrontation between the two sides.
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