Libya's south as the scene of internal divisions

Libya's southern regions have been marginalised by central government authorities in recent years
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AFP/GREGORIO BORGIA  -   Libya's Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh

Libya is emerging as a country of vital importance for the security of the European continent in the fight against human smuggling, as well as migration and the fight against terrorism that plagues the African continent. Libya's Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeiba travelled to the south of the country to establish his position throughout the region, where he held his first cabinet meeting in Sebha, the capital of Fezzan, considered the third historic region of the country, along with Tripoli and Cyrenaica.

Dbeiba said during the meeting that the region's problems were "the result of years of war and division", and stressed that the government's presence in Sebha "is proof of our determination to move forward to help the south". The prime minister assured that his government would provide the southern region with all the necessary services and also announced that it would secure the south through a plan to support the security apparatus to fight crime and terrorism and to secure the elections on 24 December, according to local media reports.

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AFP/MAHMUD TURKIA - Libya's Prime Minister-designate Abdul Hamid Dheibah during a press conference in the capital Tripoli

The Libyan prime minister emphasised during his visit to the southern city that "there is no war in Libya as of today, neither in Sebha nor anywhere else," Dbeiba said. Despite this assertion, Libya remains deeply divided internally. The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar, pre-empted Dbeiba's visit to the southern regions in an attempt to demonstrate the militia's remaining clout. The LNA command sent a delegation of senior officers to the Fezzan region.

According to the LNA media office, this delegation included members of the joint military committee led by the Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Abdel Razek al-Nadouri. The Arab Weekly quotes sources close to the LNA command as explaining that the main reason for this trip was to tour LNA positions in the region to check its forces and determine logistical needs.

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PHOTO/FILE - Marshal Khalifa Haftar

For the past few years, the south has been marginalised by the Tripoli-based central government authorities, a fact that was further intensified after the LNA established a formal presence in the region. Libya's interim prime minister, Dbeiba, wanted to travel to the region to show that the new government is an executive in pursuit of the country's unity. During his visit to Sebha, Dbeiba said that "the south of Libya is strategic and without this area the country would not exist; it will be our top priority".

Since the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been mired in instability. The country has also served as a chessboard for other foreign powers seeking to gain influence in the region, such as Turkey and Russia. Last October, the country's forces agreed to a ceasefire and participants in the UN peace talks set a date for elections. 

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PHOTO/AFP - Members of the special forces of the self-proclaimed eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) gathered in the city of Benghazi, Libya

These elections would be a major step in international efforts to establish security and peace in the country, where many armed groups still hold sway. However, the possibility that these elections, which would be a major turning point in the Libyan situation, could be postponed would mean a stalemate in the peace process.