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Libya's symbolic step on the long journey to normality

We understand from US President Barack Obama's words that he wants to correct his past mistakes in Libya. He said that he agreed with British Prime Minister David Cameron not to interfere militarily in Libya; they will refrain from sending ground troops there. Obama, who is preparing to depart from politics, has admitted that his biggest regret is to have allowed Libya to drown in violence without providing real assistance from the West, specifically from NATO.

It seems, though, that the political situation in Libya has started to head in the right direction, with Fayez Al-Sarraj's government able to persevere and gain reasonable political support. The division amongst the members of the Tobruk parliament, which has found itself under great pressure from the international community, confirms the existence of a new political process taking place in eastern Libya. This suggests support for a united country existing among the people and the state institutions. There is also support from the US and EU for the efforts made by the majority of the MPs who are calling for an internationally recognised parliamentary session in a safe place other than Tobruk in order to remove the last obstacle standing in the way of a vote of confidence in the presidential committee and Sarraj's government.

As for Daesh, its helplessness and weakness has been confirmed lately, as it has lost control of the city of Darnah and there is a split with the Sarat tribes which embraced the group in the past. The defeat of Daesh in Benghazi is considered one of the most important military and ground developments achieved by the forces led by General Khalifa Haftar. This is despite the fact that Daesh still possesses some power and effectiveness, but its fortune and position it once boasted about has weakened, causing it to lose a number of positions. The most recent of these losses is the withdrawal of most of its members from the Bin Jawad area and their move towards Sarat.

Everyone in Libya has realised that Daesh cannot be a permanent and guaranteed ally, and that its religious extremism, tendency for brutal violence and obvious desire to control the land and the people has made it a source of concern for all armed and civilian political forces. In addition, the group has provoked fear and disgust among Libyan citizens after its crimes against women and civilians. Its actions have caused it to lose any chance it might once have had of establishing permanent popular support. This doesn't mean that the threat from Daesh has ended or has become a secondary issue. This is what drove Obama to stress that the US, Britain and a number of Western allies are willing to help Libya secure its borders and expel the terrorists. This position is consistent with what the American president said with regards to the situation in Syria, as he also ruled out the possibility of achieving a decisive victory against Daesh before the end of his presidential term, although he did promise to reduce the potential of its forces.

Despite the continued fears and dangers, the Libyans can no longer live with the disastrous situation they are experiencing. Most are willing to accept help from anyone who promises to save them from the catastrophic situation they are in. After rejoicing over the death of Muammar Gaddafi, they believed that they would rise to higher levels, but today, according to the UN envoy, the people of Libya are suffering from hunger while 60 per cent of their hospitals are closed.

There are still many obstacles in the way of the state council and national reconciliation government. However, after the provision of political support on the international and local level, we can say that this is an important symbolic step taken on Libya's long journey back to normality.

Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, 25 April 2016.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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