By Sami Zaptia.
London, 29 December 2020:
A high-level Egyptian delegation headed by Undersecretary of the Egyptian Intelligence Service visited Tripoli on Sunday (27 December). It was the first such visit in six years.
It will be recalled that the Egyptian embassy in Tripoli closed in 2014 when Libya Dawn militias carried out a coup, which eventually led to the current political division in Libya.
The Tripoli Foreign Ministry’s Official Spokesperson, Mohamed Giblawi, said they discussed activating signed agreements on economy and security, as well as reopening the Egyptian embassy in Tripoli and finding urgent solutions to resuming flights between the two countries. urgent solutions should be found to resume flights to Cairo
The purpose of the visit was to address work to restore normal diplomatic relations and cooperation between the two countries in several fields, he added.
Giblawi reported that the Egyptian delegation promised the Libyan side to restore the work of the embassy from inside the capital, Tripoli, as soon as possible
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry subsequently called Tripoli Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala and discussed with him the Libyan file and support for stability.
Shoukry praised the reception of the Egyptian delegation in Tripoli and affirmed the continuation of cooperation between the two sides and that the visit is a serious step in this direction.
UNSMIL, LPDF, new Roadmap and 2021 elections
The visit is seen as a major sign of the thawing of relations between Tripoli and Cairo. It indicates that Cairo, hitherto a strong supporter of Khalifa Hafter and House of Representatives (HoR) head Ageela Saleh, may be preparing for a new order in Libya set by the UNSMIL-brokered Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF)’s new political roadmap that has set a target of 24 December 2021 elections.
The Hafter-Saleh star waning?
Cairo may be perceiving that the likelihood of the success of Hafter and Saleh is diminishing. In Ghadames, 127 HoR members met and replacing Saleh as HoR head was on their agenda. On the same day, Saleh called for an official HoR meeting in Benghazi and, embarrassingly, only around 20 members turned up.
Tripoli looking to undermine Hafter/Saleh-Cairo ties?
The fact that Tripoli has welcomed the Egyptian delegation may also indicate that Tripoli wants to undermine the ties between Cairo and Hafter/Saleh. If Tripoli can allay some of Cairo’s security needs from Libya’s eastern border and offer it an alternative vision and highlight possible win-win scenarios, Cairo may loosen its ties with Hafter and Saleh.
Tripoli emboldened by Turkish alliance?
It may also indicate that Tripoli feels it is now more confident, backed by its alliance with Turkey. Tripoli may feel it is in a stronger position and is able to negotiate with Cairo on an equal footing, if not from a position of strength. It also hopes it can communicate this to Cairo and result in the later recalibrating its calculations towards Libya.
Hafter/Saleh can no longer win a military victory?
This recalibration may include the idea that Hafter/Saleh can no longer hope to win a political victory through a military victory. Tripoli hopes Cairo will now put all its efforts in the LPDF political process brokered by UNSMIL.
Biden in the Whitehouse?
Equally, Cairo may be accepting that Biden will be installed at the Whitehouse in less than three weeks and maybe realigning itself with a new U.S. approach to the Libya issue.