The great surprise occurred in Libya, and the counter-revolution was dealt a painful blow. Its men were defeated in the Libyan elections, which were held in Geneva under the auspices of the UN, and contrary to all expectations, the list of Aguila Saleh, Libyan parliament speaker close to General Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by Egypt, the UAE, France and Russia and Fathi Bashagha, minister of the interior and the strong man in the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli both lost.
Instead, the list of Muhammad Al-Menfi, who advocated and supported the February Revolution, won. Although he was a member of the General National Congress for the city of Tobruk, he did not support "Operation Dignity", the brutal military campaign launched by the retired General Khalifa Haftar against his people in the capital Tripoli. Haftar committed heinous massacres, killed thousands of Libyans, and destroyed, ruined, and burned everything.
Muhammad Al-Menfi was GNA ambassador to Greece, but the Greek government expelled him, in clear violation of diplomatic relations and protocols with countries, for his refusal to condemn the agreement on demarcating the borders in the Mediterranean, signed between Turkey and Libya.
Years later, Al-Menfi is elected as head of the Libyan Presidential Council, while political activist and businessman, Abdul Hamid Dabaiba, was elected prime minister. He is from a large wealthy family in Misrata that is greatly influential in the city. Some may not know that he is the founder and head of the Libya Future Movement, and he was among Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi's team in the Libya of Tomorrow project. The body set up in order to allow Said Al-Islam to succeed his father in power. Moreover, Musa Al-Koni from southern Libya and Abdullah Al-Lafi from Al-Zawiya in western Libya were elected as members of the presidency council.
This shows us that the Presidential Council is made up of three members from three geographical regions, east, west, and south. One can view this from two different perspectives; some may see it as a good indicator of consensus and taking into account logical balances, to redistribute power and wealth between the three regions of Libya to achieve social justice and to achieve comprehensive reconciliation in the country.
Others may see it as a sinister indicator to implement a plan to divide Libya, especially since the deputy head of the UN Support Mission in Libya for political affairs and Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Stephanie Williams, chose the members participating in the political dialogue, who, in turn, elected this consensus council. The Libyan people had no role in this, as they were not involved in the elections.
Nevertheless, the initial reactions in Libya showed an overwhelming welcome of the results from the public. They celebrated, sang, and danced in the streets, rejoicing in this new authority, and considered it a clear victory, as they got rid of Aguila Saleh and the criminal Haftar.
The media reported statements by the Libyan Defence Minister, Salah Al-Din Al-Namroush, confirming his support for the elected interim leadership. Fathi Bashagha also congratulated the winning list and considered the events an embodiment of democracy, along with other former officials.
If we take these statements seriously, and consider them as stemming from their beliefs and convictions, separate from the grudges of loss and the diplomacy imposed on them in such circumstances, then they reveal a clear desire to restore peace in the country and get on the right path. This was after being derailed by the civil war, foreign interventions, and counterrevolution attempts to return the post-revolution country to the military dictatorship in which Libya lived during the rule of Colonel Gaddafi, by employing his former General Khalifa Haftar to control Libya by force.
As we can see, this new council has clean hands that have not been stained with the blood of Libyans, were not involved in the conflicts in the country, and were not part of the conflict since 2014. Therefore, they have an opportunity to succeed in dealing with many thorny issues, the most important of which is the unity of the country and the restoration of harmony and cohesion among the Libyan people. Another major issue is repairing the Libyan fabric after it was torn apart by civil wars, discord, and external and internal plots.
Some may ask, what are the guarantees that this council and its government will be empowered on the ground, as it is the weakest force, and it does not have sufficient influence on the ground, especially in the east in the presence of Haftar and his forces that control the area. This is especially since Haftar will not accept any authority that does not support his absolute authority over the army and the security services.
It is certain that the UN and the international system will be a guardian of the agreement, in addition to the symbolic power of the UN, even if it was not stated under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, to act as a deterrent to Haftar and the countries supporting him from committing any foolishness that he may want to. It may stop him from returning to his recklessness and madness, with the support of the countries that support him and using his forces to seize power by force again.
However, the presence of two big countries will play an important role, namely the US and Germany, which sponsored the Berlin conference, after direct French intervention was dropped following Pari's support for Haftar, and the same goes for Russia, as the US is interested in ending the Russian influence in Libya.
President-elect Abdel Hamid Dabaiba's announcement of his endeavour for the state to monopolise arms and build professional security institutions will definitely not be an easy matter, as there are many challenges and even more plots. International support alone will not be enough to achieve the aspirations of the Libyans. The matter depends on the capabilities of the new leadership to face these challenges and difficulties and to work to remove all difficult obstacles ahead.
Nonetheless, I am optimistic about this new leadership and I believe it will lead Libya to a bright future without Haftar so that the Libyan people can enjoy the peace they deserve.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.