Is Fayez el Sarraj, the head of the Libyan government (Tripoli), still credible?

(B2) This is the question that Europeans will probably ask themselves on Monday (9 December) at the meeting of EU foreign ministers. But the answer already seems to be in advance to listen to several European diplomats

A discredited government

By signing an agreement with Turkey delimiting an maritime exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which deliberately violates the interests of several European countries (Greece and Cyprus), the government of Fayez el Sarraj no longer seems able to unite the Libyans around it, and even more able to drag the Europeans behind it. By supplementing this signature with a military cooperation agreement that clearly aims to circumvent the international embargo, the Libyan government leader has largely lost credibility… In a way, he signed his “political death” in the eyes of Europeans.

Support from the tip of your lips

Officially, however, nothing has changed. Europeans swear to their Gods that it is still the government recognized by the international community. “Mr Sarraj is our partner with whom we have and we must have contact” said Peter Stano, the spokesman for the EU High Representative, interviewed by B2 at the traditional lunchtime press briefing, Friday (6 December). Behind the scenes, however, the discourse is quite different. We hear about other equally legitimate actors again.

The Libyan Parliament, once again a credible interlocutor

“This agreement with Turkey has already been challenged by the Libyan Parliament and other actors in Libya”, a European diplomat told several journalists (including B2). This is confirmed by another who goes even further. “This agreement has yet to be ratified by the Libyan Parliament,” he recalls, who relocated from Tobruk to Benghasi. And given the animosity between the two proponents of power, the legislature in eastern Libya and the executive in western Libya, this does not seem to be the case the day before (1). The Speaker of the Libyan Parliament, Aguila Salah Issa, who has been very much in favour since he spoke out against this agreement, will also be received very officially in Athens by the Greek authorities on Wednesday, December 11. This although it is on the EU’s black list. That means how times are changing…

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Article based on an interview given to the TV channel El Arabiyah newspaper, Friday, December 6

  1. For Europeans, in fact, the priority seems to be more Ankara than Tripoli. “We are talking with Turkey above all” confirms a European diplomat to me. “The major problem is not Libya but Turkey, our partner in several areas… »

Nicolas Gros-Verheyde

Rédacteur en chef du site B2. Diplômé en droit européen de l'université Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne et auditeur 65e session IHEDN (Institut des hautes études de la défense nationale. Journaliste depuis 1989, fonde B2 - Bruxelles2 en 2008. Correspondant UE/OTAN à Bruxelles pour Sud-Ouest (auparavant Ouest-France et France-Soir).