How Does Tunisia’s Coup Crisis Negatively Affect ‘Recovering’ Libya?
“The civil coup in Tunisia that violated the will of the people is able to turn the Libyan political table upside down.”
Tunisia, the spark of the Arab Spring revolutions, is going through a difficult stage, as the economic crisis worsened and affected public life with the spread of the Corona epidemic. This caused a protest in the Tunisian street.
However, the tension that occurred between the parliament, in which the Ennahdha party occupies most of its seats, and the government led by Prime Minister Hicha Mechichi and the country's president, Kais Saied, has topped the Tunisian agenda, overshadowing even the economic problems that shook the country, according to what the Turkish newspaper, Yeni Şafak, says.
On July 25, President Saied carried out a "civilian coup", bypassing his powers and authorities, ignoring the democratic progress his country had achieved during the past ten years, and announcing the suspension of Parliament and the dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi.
With this step, Saied was inflicting significant damage to Tunisian democracy in the medium and long term, according to writer Fouad Amir Shafaqatli.
He adds: It was possible to feel the negative effects of this decision on the Tunisian people, who are going through a social and political transition after the Arab Spring.
However, recent developments have not only affected Tunisia, which was and still is a role model in the Middle East, but also had grave risks that would undermine Libya's progress in the process of national reconciliation and its quest for stability.
Tunisia had hosted the negotiations between the parties to the conflict and played an important role in resolving the Libyan crisis, which had entered a political reconciliation process.
The interim government that took power after former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who reigned for 24 years, saw that Libya had become a national security problem in light of the "civil war" that erupted in it after 2011.
After taking its precautions against possible migration due to its geopolitical location on the White Sea, Tunisia preferred to communicate with all concerned in eastern and western Libya, following the principle of neutrality and impartiality.
This gave it the power to mediate in the Libyan crisis, in which many regional and international actors participated.
According to Yeni Şafak newspaper, the matter did not stop there, but Tunisia made great contributions to the Libyan political process after the ceasefire agreement signed in October 2020, following more effective and cautious diplomacy compared to other countries in the region such as Algeria and Morocco.
The meetings held in Tunisia in November 2020, led by the United Nations, played a vital role in defining the roadmap for the Libyan elections scheduled for December 24, and paving the way for the convening of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum.
However, the civil coup in Tunisia, which violated the will of the people, is able to turn the Libyan political situation upside down.
Tunisia was a model for Libya to follow, as it was able to absorb the revolutionary movements in the Arab region and completed its political transition, which made it reach a ceasefire agreement through dialogue.
In addition, Tunisia has always shown its support for constructive solutions and the stability of countries through its support for legitimate governments such as the former UN-recognized Government of National Accord and the Government of National Unity that took power in March 2021, according to the writer Fouad Amir.
The suspension of Parliament and the dismissal of the Prime Minister may lead to Tunisia losing its influence and its mediating role in Libya.
Potential internal turmoil could also give domestic and international actors prioritizing military intervention in Libya a trump card and a wide outlet.
What increases these fears is the fingerprints of the United Arab Emirates - one of the most important supporters and financiers of the coup Khalifa Haftar - on the developments in Tunisia.
The UAE, which sees the democracies in the region as a threat to it, "is fully prepared to support the political processes against the Ennahdha movement, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Tunisia, just as it did in Egypt."
This is what Haftar does, as he aims to legitimize his attempts to destabilize the country by using the same discourse of hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood as political propaganda in Libya.
As is well known, Haftar's argument in the attack he launched on the capital, Tripoli, in 2014 and 2019, revolved around the GNA's relationship with the Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Given this intellectual background that constitutes a motive, it can be said that Haftar will adopt a more aggressive stance in the short and medium term against any formation close to the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Libya, believing that it has lost its strength in Tunisia after the recent developments, according to what the writer sees.
“It is remarkable that Haftar links Turkey with the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya. “The writer added.
In this, Haftar made it clear that "the Libyan army will not be subject to any authority with the statements he made on the occasion of the 81st anniversary of its founding," sending a message to the National Unity Government, which has close relations with Turkey and to the international community, that he will not hesitate to present military alternatives in next stage.
Fouad Amir said that "the confinement of a country like Tunisia, whose national interests are in line with the solution of the Libyan crisis, on itself and its internal problems and the loss of its previous role as an actor, will strengthen the position of the actors that are waiting to replace dialogue with military alternatives."
What confirms this scenario is Haftar's anticipation of congratulating President Saied after his recent decisions.
Tunisia had welcomed the members of the Presidential Council and the national unity government elected in March and emphasized cooperation and regional dialogue in solving Libya's problems.
The writer concluded his article by saying: “However, the motives on which President Saied, who is said to be driven by the Emirati and French agendas, will build his position on Libya and the extent of the decline that he will show in his previous Libyan policies, remain ambiguous.”