A plan to stabilize Libya, introduced by the United Nations' envoy to the country, is too complex and will take too long to set up, said Karim Mezran, a senior fellow with a Washington-based think tank.
Mezran, who is affiliated with the Atlantic Council, said the country is in such turmoil on so many fronts that action must be taken now to at least deal with the primary conflict between the country's east and west.
That means bringing together the heads of the country's two main factions, internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and Eastern-based strongman Gen. Khalifa Haftar, Mezran told Maghreb News Wire. Then the real work can begin, Mezran said.
Envoy Ghassan Salame has proposed a plan that is based on the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement, but includes a set of moves that includes a national conference involving all the warring parties in the country.
"It is a nice plan, but it is going to take too long. It is complex," Mezran said. "Haftar and other actors are not going to wait eight months for this. I strongly doubt that."
A report compiled by the European Union Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM) outlined the problems facing the country, in somewhat obvious terms.
"Sustainable progress may remain limited in the absence of a political solution, an end to the military conflict and a return to stability," the report stated, according to an article in euobserver.com. The report noted political infighting in Libya's ministry of defense has made it more difficult to execute any EU-backed security plan in the country.
Mezran, a fellow at the Atlantic Society's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, believes Haftar is eyeing a takeover of the entire country and that the best chance to ease tensions is to work from the top and involve Haftar in substantive talks with al-Serraj.
International actors have a role, he added, including the United States, which can pressure Egypt to back off supporting Haftar, and tell the EU and the UN to apply similar pressure.
Haftar, who made his first visit to Italy last week, said in an interview published last Friday that force must remain an option for imposing order in the country. He added that a political solution would be preferable.
“It’s obvious that we prefer the political routes, but when these don’t work there must be other solutions,” Haftar told Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper. He further noted that his Libyan National Army is fighting Islamic militants.