Libyan analyst Eljarh: ”Dbeibah wants normalization with Israel in exchange for US support”

”Diplomatic aid from the United States is essential for the prime minister’s political survival. Dbeibah asked Italy to mediate and Rome was happy to do so”

The meeting in Rome between the Libyan foreign minister Najila Mangoush and the head of Israeli diplomacy Eli Cohen was certainly not accidental, nor was it informal. Rather, it was a ”meeting agreed by both the Libyans and the Israelis with Italy chosen as mediator”. In what the Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah considers the ”right time to exploit the card of normalization with Israel, despite the risks, to secure the political and diplomatic support of the United States against the attempt to remove it”. So Mohamed Eljarh, Managing Partner at the Libya Desk Consulting, analyzes with Adnkronos the meeting that took place in Rome last week and which was made known by Israel, unleashing the anger of the Libyans and beyond.

”It is now clear that the meeting was previously organized and agreed upon by both the Israeli and Libyan sides with Italy chosen as the intermediary country to facilitate the meeting”, explained the analyst, recalling that ” the possibility of normalization between Israel and Tripoli’s national unity government was seriously discussed for the first time in January 2023 during the visit of CIA director William Burns to Tripoli”. Then, continues Eljarh, the Libyan prime minister ”Dbeibah accepted in principle the idea of ​​normalisation, but expressed his concern for the potential reaction of the Libyan people”. Then making an assessment between risks and benefits, Dbeibah decided that ”this was the right moment” also because ”he is now facing a serious effort to oust him and replace the GNU with a new government of national unity”. Even more, notes the analyst, in light of the recent meeting between the head of the presidential council, Mohammed Menfi, the president of the House of Representatives, Aqila Saleh, and general Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi.

‘Dbeibah asked Italy to mediate, Rome happy to do so’

”The United States has promised to support Dbeibah diplomatically and politically on condition that a meeting takes place between GNU and the Israeli government”, says the analyst, recalling that ”the American special envoy to Libya, Richard Norland, will be engaged in a tour that will include Cairo, Ankara and Benghazi to keep Dbeibah as prime minister in a cabinet reshuffle. Or at least include him in the ongoing political negotiations to form a new government”, which means ”reserving him a place at the negotiating table, preventing him from being set aside by other Libyan actors”.

A line also espoused by Italy which ”played the role of facilitator on the basis of a direct request from Dbeibah himself”. On the other hand, continues Eljarh, ”Italy is one of the main supporters of Dbeibah and is one of the main beneficiaries of the contracts awarded by the government of national unity in the energy and construction sectors, among others. Rome was happy to play the role of mediator”.

‘Dbeibah residences attacked, opponents will use opportunities to oust him’

The popular reaction, as the Libyan premier expected, was not long in coming. ”It was strong”, Eljarh explains, ”with the residences of Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and (of the national security adviser, ed) Ibrahim al-Dbeibah attacked and partially set on fire by protesters. The Dbeibahs are now in hiding”. On a political level, ”it is very probable that Dbeibah’s numerous political opponents will make the most of this opportunity to try to oust him from the seat of power in Tripoli”.

Whether they really succeed remains to be seen. ”Dbeibah survived similar though less serious situations. We will have to wait and see if he will be able to contain the consequences of this incident or if it will be the end of him politically ”, he concludes.