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Middle East

How Iran Can Checkmate Trump

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On Sunday morning 5 January 2020, the great investigative journalist and geostrategist who blogs as “Moon of Alabama” (MOA) headlined “Iraqi Parliament Expels Foreign Militaries From Iraq” and he reported that not only the parliament but also the nation’s Prime Minister (Abdel Mahdi) are demanding departure from Iraq of all foreign military forces, and that Iraq will now — as UAE’s The National puts it — “lodge an official complaint against the US at the UN.” The complaint will “condemn #US airstrikes on #Iraqi soil targeting Iraqi soldiers and both Iraqi and #Iranian military leaders.”

(U.S.-and-allied ‘news’-media, such as Reuters, lied about this matter when saying that “While such resolutions are not binding on the government, this one is likely to be heeded: Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi had earlier called on parliament to end foreign troop presence as soon as possible.” As MOA had already explained, the assassination was profoundly embarrassing personally to Mahdi, and he “and the whole cabinet supported the resolution.” Under such circumstances, there is no way possible that the Prime Minister can reverse himself and his cabinet and the Parliament, on that demand. It’s a non-reversible demand. But, later on January 5th, the U.S. State Department nonetheless said, “While we await further clarification on the legal nature and impact of today’s resolution, we strongly urge Iraqi leaders to reconsider the importance of the ongoing economic and security relationship between the two countries and the continued presence of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.” That was a stupid statement, but at least it wasn’t so demeaning to Shiites and to Shiite-led governments as the U.S. President’s statements normally are. It was instead a public display that the American dictator can’t believe that, from now on, Iraqis are going to be running Iraq, and that there’s no way the ruler in Washington DC can possibly dictate to Iraq again. Yet, Axios reported later in the day, that “‘I think it would be inconvenient for us, but it would be catastrophic for Iraq,’ said a U.S. official familiar with the Trump administration’s effort to block the vote. ‘It’s our concern that Iraq would take a short-term decision that would have catastrophic long-term implications for the country and its security.’” The U.S. Government was already becoming desperate and resorting to veiled unspecific ‘catastrophe’ for Iraqis if Iraq’s Government won’t reverse this command. Some fat chance that the outraged and temporarily united Iraqi public are going to cave to such veiled threats from Iraq’s viscerally hated invader.)  

MOA, a progressive German who despises fascists (such as Trump), makes abundantly clear that “Without any bases in Iraq the U.S. position in Syria will become untenable.” He quotes another respected geostrategist, Elijah Magnier, saying, “#QassemSoleimani managed to reach with his death what he couldn’t reach when he was alive. That is his last spectacular act for Iran and for the ‘Axis of the Resistance’: legislation forcing the US to withdraw and cease all kind of collaboration.”

Instances in which I have tracked the accuracy of predictions of both MOA and Magnier, have shown MOA’s to have an even higher (virtually 100%) rate of having proven accurate than Magnier’s do; and, consequently, MOA’s quoting this from Magnier makes it MOA’s prediction also, and not only Magnier’s. This adds weight to it. Consequently, the U.S. regime’s long war against Iran, which started by its successful coup in 1953 overthrowing Iran’s democratically elected Government and replacing that legimate Government by a barbaric dictatorship which lasted until 1979 and which American billionaires even up to the present time cannot tolerate having been overthrown by the Iranian people in 1979, does finally appear likely to end, with the fascist imperialist U.S. regime’s humiliating defeat, one way or another, but not necessarily quickly.

MOA closes with:

There is a clear danger in this act [by Iraq’s Government, expelling all U.S. forces]. The Trump administration is now likely to see Iraq as completely in the Iranian camp. That never was and never will be true but that is how it will be seen. The U.S. may therefore again start to pay (with Saudi money?) Sunni extremists, i.e. ISIS, to change the current situation to its advantage.

That is one reason why I recommend to Iraq to invite Russia to train its army.

However, here I respectfully diverge from MOA’s view. While I do favor Iraq’s becoming allied with Russia — the nation that America’s Government has been aiming ever since 26 July 1945 (when the U.S. Government became taken over by America’s Deep State or aristocracy) to conquer — I believe that immediately is not the best time to do this. My sense of the situation is that Trump has already trapped himself here, and that if only Iran will refrain from fulfilling anytime soon its threats to retaliate, then Trump will become forced by circumstances to accept a settlement on Iran’s terms. Consequently, any public action by Russia right now would serve only to provide America’s billionaires (acting, as they customarily do, via their agents and fronts) yet another opportunity to call Russia ‘an enemy of America’ and thereby to distract the global public from the blatant, sheer, and unalloyed, evil, of Trump’s constant efforts to crush Iran — a nation that never invaded nor even threatened to invade America. Furthermore, Iraq’s leadership have probably already been advised by Russia to refrain from publicly seeking alliance with Russia at the present stage; and, so, I do not expect that any such request by Iraq will be made at this time. If Iraq requests it now and Russia does not favorably respond, that would only weaken both Iraq and Russia; so, I do not expect it to happen. Not yet.

Timing is almost everything. On 18 November 2019, Russia’s Sputnik News bannered “Russia Ready to Deliver Arms to Iran After Int’l Sanctions Lifted — Defence Cooperation Body”, and this obviously means that Russia doesn’t want to come out publicly on Iran’s side unless and until the U.S. regime has cancelled its sanctions against Iran. Putin is an extremely intelligent man; he understands timing. Trump’s 3 January 2020 assassination of Iran’s #2 leader is an overt (by means of that action) declaration of war by him against Iran; and, so, Russia clearly can see that if Russia overtly comes out as being allied with Iran against the United States, then the conflict between U.S. and Iran would immediately be also a conflict between U.S. and Russia — and at an even higher level of adversariality than since 30 September 2015 (when Russia started bombing America’s and Saudi Arabia’s hired boots-on-the-ground fighters — led by Al Qaeda in Syria — who were trying to overthrow Syria’s secular Government) has existed regarding the war in Syria. It would be wrong for Russia, until U.S. troops are already gone from Iraq. Russia’s strategy has always been to delay World War III until all other means of pacifying America’s cravenous aristocracy have become exhausted — which hasn’t happened yet. If Russia will be coming out publicly in favor of Iran against the U.S. regime, then that would be just one step away from a direct hot war with the United States, which would produce global nuclear annihilation. Obviously, Russia won’t yet do that. Forcing Trump either to become publicly humiliated by backing down, or else for him to destroy the planet within less than an hour by means of WW III, isn’t necessary now, though could later occur, if Trump is crazy enough to refuse to comply with Iraq’s January 5th command.

So: neither Iraq nor Iran should make any such move (inviting Russia in), at the present time. Only after U.S. troops are gone from the region could Iraq and Iran become publicly allied with, and under the protection of, Russia. Only then will the realigned global order start. Right now would be too early.

Iran’s leadership team are remarkably intelligent. (America’s, after FDR died, have usually been cunning but now — under Trump — aren’t even that.) Iran’s leaders have promised retaliation for what Trump did. But they haven’t said when it will be done, or what it will entail. If they just stand back and wait while the world-at-large (other than American billionaires’ core foreign allies the aristocracies of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and UK) gradually abandon their alliances with the U.S. regime, then not only Iran but also the U.S. regime’s other main targets — Russia and China — will naturally rise in the international order, and this could become the way that the world’s most dangerous imperialistic regime, the United States Government (since 1948 the serial perpetrator of coups and invasions), will finally be able to be defeated peacefully, and defanged gradually thereafter.

That would be Iran’s retaliation — none.

Here is what I see as a possible end-point to this matter, if all non-U.S. entitities respond to this turning-point in history in the optimal ways:

Trump would announce that he is herewith cancelling sanctions against Iran and restoring U.S. participation in the Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which in 2015 was signed by China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Germany, and then the entire European Union. Iran would then announce that it is willing to discuss with all of the signatories to that agreement, if a majority of them wish to do so, international negotiations regarding possible changes (amendments) to be made to that agreement. The United States would then offer, separately, and on a strictly bi-lateral, U.S.-Iran, basis, to negotiate with Iran a settlement to all outstanding issues between the two nations, so that they may proceed forward with normal diplomatic relations, on a peaceful instead of mutually hostile, foundation.

Trump also would announce that he is seeking negotiations with Iraq about a total withdrawal of the United States from Iraq — the end of the U.S. occupation that started on 20 March 2003 — and closure of the U.S. Embassy there, to be replaced by a far smaller U.S. Embassy. America’s imperial sway over Iraq will end, though not immediately — its ending will be a process. This will be a negotiated termination, a peaceful one (unless Trump is crazy enough to resist).

Trump would initiate this as a package-deal confidentially offered by him to Khamenei — all steps of it — in advance of any carrying-out of the steps, and initiated by him soon enough to ward off any retaliatory action by Iran (just in case Iran isn’t smart enough to give him all the time he needs in order to quit his further provocations), so as to avoid further escalation of the hostilities, which otherwise would likely escalate to a widespread and possibly global war. In other words, this direct communication between the two should already have been sought by Trump. (But, since he’s probably too stupid to have thought that out in advance, let’s all hope that Iran’s leadership are sufficiently intelligent to give him all the time that he needs.)

I do not expect Trump to do any of that, not even the first step, and not even the offer to Khamenei; and Iran is in no position to make the first step, in any case (since the U.S. had started the mutual hostilities between the two nations in 1953). However, if Trump does, at least make the offer and then do the first step (ending sanctions), then I think that he will easily win re-election, regardless of whom the Democratic nominee will be. If he can re-establish friendly relations with Iran, then that will be a diplomatic achievement of historic proportions, the best and most important in decades. No one would then be able to deny it. He would, in fact, then deserve to win the Nobel Peace Prize (which Obama never deserved to win, though he did win it). But I don’t expect any of that to happen, because it would be exactly contrary to the way that any recent U.S. President has behaved, and because many in power in the United States would be furious against him if he did do it.

But just give it time; and, if Iran simply waits for ‘the right time to retaliate’, then retaliation by Iran won’t even be necessary.

This would be “Checkmate!” by Iran, against the U.S. regime. And that  would be Iran’s (and everyone’s except U.S.’s, UK’s, Israel’s, and Saudi Arabia’s) ‘retaliation’, for Trump’s personal combination of psychopathy and stupidity. (Those four nations — the core U.S. group — would then go on together, to decline peacefully in the global order.)

An interesting feature of this outcome is that Iran would then be using Trump’s enormous blunder in a way that would simultaneously defeat all four of the nations that are seeking to defeat Iran: U.S., Saudi Arabia, Israel, and UK. Even if Trump ends up winning his vaunted Nobel Peace Prize and Iran won’t share in it, Iran would be the winner of what really is important, and (no matter how much such a prize would then be deserved only by Iran), that meaningless piece of PR dross wouldn’t mean anything to Iran’s leaders, anyway. They’re not nearly so petty as Trump — that’s for sure.

Iran’s biggest weapon now will be patience, if they’re smart enough to use it.

Trump’s assassination of Soleimani could turn out to have been the best thing that has ever happened for Iran. If so, Soleimani, were he around to see the outcome, would be ecstatic that Trump did it. He was a true Iranian patriot, nothing of the fake sort. In any case, nothing, from now on, will be able to detract from the legend that will arise in Iran about him. The ball is now in Iran’s court, for Soleimani’s successors to determine the world’s future. Trump made this possible. Without what he did on January 3rd, it would not be possible.

UPDATE:

However, the news on the morning of January 7th is that at least thus far, Iran is behaving badly, and also Europe is behaving badly. Iran is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which in 2015 was signed by China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Germany, and then the entire European Union. This drives European nations to continue relying on America and its NATO. And the rhetoric from European leaders is suddenly more favorable toward Trump’s assassination of Soleimani. Things right now are hurtling toward an isolated Iran against ‘The Western Alliance’ or the U.S.-and-allied regimes. Perhaps Iran’s leaders (Khamenei and Solemani’s replacement, announced by Khamenei on January 3rd, Brigadier General Ismai Ghani), are expecting that in a lurch they will ask Russia to back them up against U.S.-and-its-allies. This suggests that Putin hasn’t yet told them that unless they adhere to this plan, he would say no to that. If this is what’s happening behind the scenes, then Putin goofed there by having assumed they understood, and should promptly but privately tell Iran this, and should privately instruct Iran promptly to reverse its announced withdrawal from the nuclear agreement. That reversal would turn out to be temporary if EU leaders fail then to back Iran and Iraq against U.S. on Soleimani and on the necessity for Trump to comply with the order from Iraq to end occupying Iraq now. Unless Iran promptly reverses its announced withdrawal from JCPOA, everything will fall apart and not be able to be put together again, and, at the very least, Iran will be destroyed and probably almost all of the Middle East too. The Cold War would go on, and the U.S. regime would be in an even stronger position than before. America’s occupation of Iraq woud continue. The misery and humiliation of Iraqis would intensify even further, China would be practically isolated, and America’s all-but-total conquest of the world would be good for nobody but U.S.-and-allied billionaires. But the results would be worst of all for Iranians.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

Middle East

Ukraine crisis could produce an unexpected winner: Iran

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 Iran potentially could emerge as an unintended winner in the escalating crisis over Ukraine. That is, if Russian troops cross the Ukrainian border and talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement fail.

An imposition of tough US and European sanctions in response to any Russian incursion in Ukraine could likely make Russia more inclined to ignore the fallout of violating US sanctions n its dealings with Iran.

By the same token, a failure of the talks between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, the European Union, France, Germany, and Britain to revive the accord that curbed the Islamic republic’s nuclear program would drive Iran closer to Russia and China in its effort to offset crippling US sanctions.

US and European officials have warned that time is running out on the possibility of reviving the agreement from which the United States under then-President Donald J. Trump withdrew in 2018.

The officials said Iran was weeks away from acquiring the know-how and capability to produce enough nuclear fuel for a bomb quickly. That, officials suggested, would mean that a new agreement would have to be negotiated, something Iran has rejected.

No doubt, that was in the back of the minds of Russian and Iranian leaders when they met last week during a visit to Moscow by Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi. It was the first meeting between the leaders of Russia and Iran in five years.

To be sure, the road to increased Russian trade, energy cooperation, and military sales would open with harsh newly imposed US sanctions against Russia even if restrictions on Iran would remain in place.

That does not mean that the road would be obstacle-free. Mr. Putin would still have to balance relations with Iran with Russia’s ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 

If anything, Russia’s balancing act, like that of China, has become more complicated without the Ukraine and Vienna variables as Iranian-backed Houthis expand the seven-year-long Yemen war with drone and missile strikes against targets in the UAE.

The Houthis struck as the Russian, Chinese and Iranian navies started their third joint exercises since 2019 in the northern Indian Ocean. The two events were not related.

“The purpose of this drill is to strengthen security and its foundations in the region, and to expand multilateral cooperation between the three countries to jointly support world peace, maritime security and create a maritime community with a common future,” Iranian Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajoldini told state tv.

US dithering over its commitments to security in the Gulf has persuaded Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to hedge their bets and diversify the nature of their relations with major external powers.

However, a Russia and potentially a China that no longer are worried about the fallout of violating US sanctions against Iran could put Riyadh and Abu Dhabi on notice that the two US rivals may not be more reliable or committed to ensuring security in the Gulf. So far, neither Russia nor China have indicated an interest in stepping into US shoes.

This leaves Saudi Arabia and the UAE with few good choices if Russia feels that US sanctions are no longer an obstacle in its dealings with Iran.

Russia is believed to want the Vienna talks to succeed but at the same time has supported Iranian demands for guarantees that the United States would not walk away from a revived deal like it did in 2018.

Against the backdrop of talk about a proposed 20-year cooperation agreement between the two countries, Russia appears to want to negotiate a free trade agreement between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union that groups Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, alongside Russia.

Iran has signed a similar 25-year cooperation agreement with China that largely remains a statement of intent at best rather than an action plan that is being implemented.

Like in the case of China, the draft agreement with Russia appears to have been an Iranian rather than a Russian initiative. It would demonstrate that Iran is less isolated than the United States would like it to be and that the impact of US sanctions can be softened.

“We have a document on bilateral strategic cooperation, which may determine our future relations for the next 20 years. At any rate, it can explain our prospects,” Mr. Raisi said as he went into his talks with Mr. Putin.

For now, Mr. Raisi’s discussions in Moscow appear to have produced more lofty prospects than concrete deals.

Media speculation that Russia would be willing to sell Iran up to US10 billion in arms, including Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 anti-missile defense systems, appear to have remained just that, speculation. Saudi Arabia and the UAE would view the sale to Iran of such weapons as particularly troublesome.

By the same token, Iranian officials, including Finance Minister Ehsan Khanduzi and Oil Minister Javad Owji, spoke of agreements signed during the Moscow visit that would revive a US$5 billion Russian credit line that has been in the pipeline for years and produce unspecified energy projects.

It’s unclear if these are new projects or ones that have been previously discussed and even agreed to, such as the one Lukoil stopped working on in 2018 after the US pulled out… Lukoil was concerned about being targeted by US sanctions,” said international affairs scholar Mark N. Katz.

Theoretically, the dynamics of the Ukraine crisis and the prospects of failed Vienna talks could mean that a long-term Russian Iranian cooperation agreement could get legs quicker than its Chinese Iranian counterpart.

Negotiating with a Russia heavily sanctioned by the United States and Europe in an escalated crisis in Ukraine could level the playing field as both parties, rather than just Iran, would be hampered by Western punitive measures.

Tehran-based Iranian scholar and political analyst Sadegh Zibakalam suggested that it was time for the regime to retire the 43-year-old Iranian revolution’s slogan of “neither East nor West.” The slogan is commemorated in a plaque at the Foreign Ministry.

Asserting that Iran has long not adhered to the motto, Mr. Zibakalam suggested that the plaque be removed and stored in the basement of a hardline Tehran newspaper. “It has not been used for a long time and should be taken down,” he tweeted.

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Middle East

Unified Libya will come only via ballot box, ‘not the gun’-UNSC

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A boy runs in the ruins of the Bab al-Aziziyah compound in Tripoli, Libya. © UNICEF/Giovanni Diffidenti

Libya is at a “delicate and fragile juncture in its path to unity and stability”, the UN Political Affairs chief told the Security Council on Monday, urging the international community to remain united in supporting national elections postponed last month. 

In welcoming positive developments across three different tracks of intra-Libyan dialogue, Rosemary A. DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, also recognized the challenges that must be overcome.  

“So many Libyans have told us, the way towards a stable and united Libya is through the ballot box, not the gun”, she said. “We must stand with them”. 

Postponed elections 

Growing polarization among political actors, and disputes over key aspects of the electoral process, led to the postponement of long anticipated elections on 24 December.  

The High National Commission for Elections (HNEC) cited shortcomings in the legal framework along with political and security concerns. To address this, the House of Representatives has established a Roadmap Committee to chart a new political path that defines an elections timetable and process. 

New Special Adviser 

Last month, Stephanie Williams was appointed Special Adviser on Libya, having served as acting Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission, UNSMIL, last year.  

To date, she has undertaken wide-ranging consultations, including with members of the Government of National Unity (GNU), the High National Election Commission, the House of Representatives, and candidates for presidential and parliamentary elections.  

Oil-rich Libya has descended into multiple crises since the overthrow of former rule Muammar Gadaffi in 2011, which in recent years saw the country divided between rival administrations – a UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital Tripoli, and that of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by General Khalifa Haftar.  

Ms. Williams has reiterated that the focus of the political process now, should remain on holding “free, fair, inclusive and credible national elections” in the shortest possible timeframe. 

“In all her meetings, the Special Adviser highlighted the 2.8 million Libyans who have registered to vote”, said Ms. DiCarlo, adding that she also called on everyone to respect the will of the Libyan people and to adhere to the timeline agreed to in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) roadmap, which was endorsed by the Security Council

Welcomed developments 

The UN political affairs chief said ongoing dialogue among political, security and economic actors from across the country was key. 

“We have seen reports of consultations between the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the High State Council, as well as among presidential candidates from western and eastern Libya”, she said.  

On the security track, there have been meetings among various armed groups, as well as the Chief of General Staff of the Western Military Forces under the GNU and the acting General Commander of the rival LNA, with the participation of military chiefs and heads of military departments from both sides.  

Turning to the economy, further steps have been taken to reunify the Central Bank of Libya.  

Moreover, renewed efforts continue to advance national reconciliation based on the principles of transitional justice.  

Security situation 

While the ceasefire has continued to hold, “political uncertainty in the run up to the elections has negatively impacted the overall security situation”, the political chief informed the Council, including in Tripoli. 

It has resulted in shifting alliances among armed groups affiliated with certain presidential candidates, she added. 

Similarly, unfulfilled demands made to the GNU by the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) in western Libya resulted in the shutdown of oil production, causing the National Oil Corporation to declare in December, force majeure – a clause that removes liability for natural and unavoidable catastrophes. 

Following negotiations between the PFG and the GNU, Oil production was restored on 9 January. 

To implement the ceasefire agreement, last month military representatives from opposing sides, called the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission (JMC), discussed with Turkish and Russian authorities, an Action Plan to gradually withdrawal mercenaries and foreign fighters from the country.     

At the same time, despite serious logistical and security challenges, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) continued its work to establish a ceasefire monitoring hub in Sirte, pending the GNU’s approval on accommodation and office facilities. 

Human rights concerns 

“The human rights situation in Libya remains very worrying”, said Ms. DiCarlo, noting “documented incidents of elections-related violence and attacks based on political affiliation”, which she described as obstacles toward a conducive environment for free, fair, peaceful and credible elections. 

“We are particularly concerned that women and men working to protect and promote women’s rights continued to be targeted by hate speech, defamation and incitement to violence”, she stated. “Some of the disturbing social media posts that posed a threat to the safety and security of these persons were removed after UNSMIL brought them to the attention of social media platforms”.  

Meanwhile, arbitrary detention by State and non-State actors continued across the country, with many detainees subjected to serious rights abuses. 

Migration management  

The situation of migrants and refugees is also highly concerning.  

“Large numbers of migrants and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and returned to Libya continue to be detained in inhumane and degrading conditions with restricted humanitarian assistance. Thousands are unaccounted for”, the UN official said.  

Ms. DiCarlo pointed out that hundreds of foreign nationals were expelled from Libya’s eastern and southern borders without due process, with some “placed in extremely vulnerable situations across remote stretches of the Sahara Desert without sufficient food, water, safety and medical care”. 

“The United Nations remains ready to work with Libyan authorities on a long-term national response to migration and refugee management in line with international law to include addressing human rights concerns”, she assured. 

Accountability  

To ensure political progress, Elham Saudi, Co-founder and Director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya, said that all who commit abuses must be held accountable, including mercenaries. 

She noted that without law, revenge would be the only winner.  

Ms. Saudi also maintained the importance of an enabling environment for all rights advocates, especially women, and expressed hopes for a human-rights based approach in how Libya is governed, going forward. 

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Middle East

Embarking on Libya’s Noble Foray Into the Future

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On Saturday the 22nd of January, activists from across the civil society spectrum in Libya gathered over Zoom with one purpose in mind; publicly declaring their support for the 1951 Libyan Independence Constitution. Despite the political turmoil which has engulfed the country since the Arab Spring began in Tunisia in 2011, a strong civil society movement which supports a return to our historical constitution, has always existed in Libya. These supporters, who represent a significant number of Libyans from across the country, see the restoration of the 1951 constitution as the only way to shape their future.

Libya has been through an immeasurable amount of internationally led initiatives, all aimed at providing Libya with long term “solutions”. Only over the course of the past decade, one can count the UN-brokered Skhirat agreement in December of 2015, the 2017 Paris meeting, the 2018 Palermo conference alongside Mohammed bin Zayed’s Abu Dhabi gathering in February 2019. Followed by Putin and Erdogan’s joint call for a ceasefire in 2020, alongside the first (2020) and second (2021) Berlin conferences alongside UN-sponsored talks in Geneva, each and every one of these efforts amounted to nothing.

The main reason behind these, perhaps well-intentioned but failed attempts, was the simple fact that none of these efforts had any grounding in Libyan history or the support of the Libyan people. Reaching consensus in a society as heavily divided as that of Libya, is a significant challenge. However, placing our faith in our history will undoubtedly provide us with a solution that is closer to the hearts of citizens of our nation and which has the potential to assist in competing factions finally putting their differences aside.

This was the catalyst of Saturday’s meeting which sought to once and for all provide an authentically Libyan solution to the issues which have been plaguing the country for over a decade. The first of these is the preservation of our territorial integrity which has for too long been challenged by foreign actors. It is high time that a long term resolution for our country’s ills is found that ensures the exclusion of foreign elements from shaping the future of our great land.

The second issue the gathering sought to underscore was the need to build an inclusive future for all members of Libyan society. For far too long, our country has excluded citizens of certain political persuasions, cultural backgrounds or those who hold different opinions. Every Libyan deserves equal opportunities, protection of basic rights alongside access to justice. This has been impossible in a country which for so long has lacked a cohesive national identity.

These two issues are indeed intertwined with the third issue which the conference sought to highlight, namely, our demand to return to constitutional legitimacy under the leadership of our Crown Prince Mohammed El Hasan el Rida el Senussi. As the sole heir to the throne of King Idris, passed down through the late Crown Prince Hassan, Prince Mohammad is the leader our country has yearned for.

With leadership claims grounded in historical fact that cannot be upended by foreign or domestic elements, from an ideological standpoint, Prince Mohammad serves as an anchor, offsetting challenges to stability posed by foreign elements. This is strengthened by his position as  the scion of a family which has been in Libya for centuries and founded the Senoussia movement, briniging with it Islam, to the country. Furthermore, historical memories of the reign of King Idris, which saw religious tolerance, gender equality and security for its citizens, reflects the future which Libyan’s would like to see for themselves today.

Bringing together journalists, academics, human rights defenders and political activists, Saturday’s gathering was indeed revolutionary. It would have been unimaginable that such a gathering would even have taken place a mere decade ago. Representing not only themselves, but a wide range of segments of Libyan society, those attending over Zoom broadcasted a powerful message; a rejection of foreign attempts top shape the future of the country alongside a return to historical, constitutional, legitimacy under the leadership of the only man who can help Libya exit the current quagmire and begin its noble foray into the future.

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