Written by William Lucht
December 5, 2022
Last Wednesday Tunisian President Kais Saied welcomed Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah for an official two-day visit. President Saied met with not only the Libyan leader but also other high-level delegates such as the Prime Minister Najla Bouden, Central Bank of Libya Director Seddik Kebir and other officials from both countries.
The meeting is perplexing and important as Saied and his Prime Minister Ms. Bouden took to the press to declare this opportunity to solidify a common destiny for both countries. This comes at a time when west and east Libya are at a current gridlock surrounding current state leadership.
Since 2011 the state has been at a political standstill following the overthrow of former leader Muammar Qaddafi. The more recent turmoil surrounds the refusal of Mr. Dbeibah to step down from leadership in Tripoli. The countries eastern-based parliament is currently headed by an internally elected official by the name of Fathi Bashaga. These two men both claim control over the country and the west and east rivalry has contributed to violence and destabilization.
It is because of this reality that it is perplexing that Tunisia, a state which struggles with authoritarian rule and democratic backsliding following democratic gains from the Arab Spring, has chosen to align itself with either Libyan leaders. The proximity of Tunis and Tripoli may be one reason Saied has chosen to align himself with the western based leadership. Currently, future goals of President Saied’s stance to ally himself with Dbeibah is unclear.
Issues felt in the Maghreb region caused by Covid-19 and other economic struggles also were discussed between the two states. Economic stability in Tunisia is shacky and mass migration out of the country by young men and women has put increased stress on the labor force. This, coupled with Islamic extremism and other threats that may spill over from a weak state like Libya, may point to the rational to build stronger relations with the western leadership in Libya, as Libya shares a border with Tunisian on it’s western side.
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