Will Riyadh-Doha reconciliation change the course of the Libyan conflict?
Posted – 07th January 2021
Experts say it’s unlikely that the patch up will alter the outcome of the Libyan equation, although some changes on other regional issues may occur.
With Saudi Arabia and Qatar signing a friendly bond that ends the three-year long economic blockade that Riyadh had imposed on its tiny Gulf neighbour, regional observers see it as a stepping stone for achieving a greater regional partnership in which other powers can be brought in to stabilise the Middle East.
Since Libya continues to be one of the hot conflicts of the region, where Saudi Arabia has chosen to side with warlord Khalifa Haftar, the process of reconciliation between Doha and Riyadh may have some ups and downs. Qatar supports Haftar’s rival, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, which has put the country on the wrong side of Saudi.
As a result, Ankara-based political analyst Dr Ali Bakeer cautioned that one should avoid drawing any hasty conclusions on the future of the Libyan conflict in light of Qatar-Saudi rapprochement.
“Neither Saudi Arabia nor Qatar are main players in the Libyan theatre. More attention should be given to UAE’s negative behaviour and whether it will be willing to change willingly or forcibly in the coming period,” Bakeer told TRT World.
Bakeer however expressed optimism with regards to new developments the reconciliation may trigger in the coming future.
“A better Saudi-Qatari relations would mean a better Saudi-Turkish relations. These three countries have the potential to tilt the regional balance towards them and if they are able to bring in Egypt too, this can minimize the regional inter-conflicts,” he said.
“In this sense, one can hope that the new setting can discourage some reckless countries or groups from taking dangerous adventures in Libya and elsewhere.”
Dr Guma el Gamaty, a Libyan academic and politician who heads the Taghyeer Political Party in Libya, told TRT World that in light of the rapprochement, he expects “less antagonism” from the GCC towards the internationally recognised GNA in Libya.
According to Gamaty, Saudi and its GCC allies had grown wary of the GNA because it believed Qatar was backing it along with Turkey.
“We can now expect more alignment and acceptance especially by Saudi Arabia to deal with GNA and shift away from Haftar especially as countries like Egypt, France and Russia are also already revising their support for Haftar,” he said.
As the UAE has been accused of playing a divisive role in the Libyan peace process, Gamaty said the Doha-Riyadh reconciliation has a potential to turn Abu Dhabi into an irrelevant regional player.
“We also expect the UAE to be more isolated and under pressure for its stance in Libya as a result of this recent agreement with Qatar. The GCC is now expected to be fully supportive of the UN sponsored political process in Libya rather than some members supporting the war,” he said.
Since the beginning of the Gulf dispute in 2017, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt suddenly severed diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar, the dispute cast its shadow on several regional and international issues, including the conflict in Libya.
Following the Doha-Riyadh patch up, Khaled Al Mishri, the head of Libya’s High Council of State, welcomed the move, saying a comprehensive Gulf reconciliation may contribute to the accomplishment of the United Nations’ efforts to reach a political solution to the Libyan crisis
TRT WORLD – Ufuk Necat Tasci
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