The worsening security and political situation in sub-Saharan African countries has begun to raise serious concern throughout the region, especially North African countries, in addition to international concern about the successive developments in the region and the nature of interventions from outside the continent to contain or increase their flare-up.
We were present during the period from the ninth to the tenth of September, in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, in an important workshop entitled "Analytical readings of the political and security crises in sub-Saharan countries and mitigating their repercussions on the Libyan and regional scene, under the slogan for a secure and stable Africa", organized by the Libyan Center for Strategic Studies and National Security in cooperation with the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, with the participation of a group of international experts, specialists and academics from the host country and abroad and from the three Libyan neighboring countries concerned with the workshop, namely: Sudan, Chad and Niger, in addition to representatives of international organizations and bodies and some ambassadors and diplomats accredited to Libya.
Libya is the common denominator in this ocean of conflict, facing complex security threats due to its common borders with the three countries and the absence of a central state since 2011.
To know the dimensions of these political and security crises in sub-Saharan countries, a serious and deep dialogue was launched to know the repercussions of these crises on Libya and other countries of the region, and their current repercussions on the present and future of these countries afflicted by wars and severe political dilemmas, without full awareness of the dimensions of the developments of the current crises and reducing their excess, these conflicts may turn into a wild storm blowing over all West, Central and East Africa and its effects will reach North Africa, so the focus of the workshop was on the situation in Sudan and its dangers The political crisis in Chad and its worrying exacerbation, the activity of the Chadian opposition in the northern and northwestern part, the coup d'état in Niger and the expected escalation of the situation in the Sahel countries and the specter of external military intervention in the region.
Sudan, Chad and Niger. Interconnected and complex crises
What is indisputable is that these crises are inextricably linked to each other, due to social and ethnic overlaps and geopolitical data, but Libya is in fact the common denominator in this crashing ocean of conflicts, as it faces complex security threats due to its common borders with the three countries, the absence of the central state since 2011, the state of chaos that swept southern Libya and made it a hotbed for many armed movements and gangs of African mercenaries, smuggling and smugglers' activity, and the most important illegal immigration crossings towards Europe, and a port from which weapons, fuel and war materiel leak, as well as gatherings of human resources involved in sub-Saharan African wars.
We began with in-depth dialogues on the situation of each country, and then met in plenary sessions, during which all participants reached strong convictions that these crises are more complex, deep and intertwined than imagined, in addition to acknowledging the inability of the continental, regional and international community to find practical and urgent solutions to stop the violence, curb the fighting and prevent it from breaking into full-scale wars that do not last and do not leave.
This, of course, requires a long dialogue, intensive contacts, international and regional coordination, and effective actions in the frameworks now on the table, such as regional and international initiatives, especially the initiative of neighbouring countries, as in the case of the Sudan, or the State Agreement for Chad, or initiatives to contain the crisis in Niger and give priority to a political solution.
Libya is a common denominator among Central African crises
It is also true that Libya, with its known circumstances and known political situation, seems the most concerned of all the countries of the region, and the most preoccupied with the developments of these crisis situations in Sudan, Niger and Chad, the lava of these volcanoes will go directly to Libya as a result of 3 main political, social and economic dimensions, the impact of the Sudanese war on Libya and the involvement of part of it (eastern Libya and Haftar's group) and the presence of pockets spawning mercenaries and fighters from African countries, and the leakage of weapons, fuel and combat supplies, in addition to the emergence of refugee cases from western Sudan and other areas and from Chad and Niger have created a different reality among Libyan political decision-makers, which may push Tripoli to develop a strategy necessary for active and urgent participation to contain the Sudanese crisis and the Chadian political and military conflict and resolve the Niger issue.
The existence of a national unity government representing the Libyan will enables this country to deal with the Sudanese crisis and sub-Saharan crises according to common interests and effective cooperation.
Throughout its long history, Libya has social, political and economic relations with the countries of the region (Sudan, Chad, Niger), of which social communication and common ethnic groups are part, as well as the Libyan influence on the political, security and economic situation in countries during the Gaddafi rule.
This Libyan role and influence has not diminished much, although the patterns and motives differ, as Libya after Gaddafi's departure has two completely different paths in dealing with Sudan. As an example, the Libyan government in Tripoli is trying to control the situation, build good neighborly relations and play a positive role in all issues in the region, while the adventures of retired Major General Khalifa Haftar made him get involved, harnessing the areas under his control to support the Rapid Support Forces in Sudan, passing military equipment, fuel and medical aid to their fighters in Khartoum and Darfur, and providing safe havens for leaders fleeing war and wounded in military operations.
Perhaps the most important thing that can be said is that Libya is united and effective, and the existence of a national unity government that represents the Libyan will enables this country to deal with the Sudanese crisis and sub-Saharan crises in accordance with common interests and effective cooperation, with the available experience accumulated over many years of contributing to joint African action and Arab-African communication.
Recommendations on the solution
Hence, the recommendations of the workshop and its final statement came after fruitful and constructive discussions as an expression of this spirit that prevailed in the dialogues, and these recommendations were:
- Ensuring solutions that achieve stability and strengthen political will in Libya and the three countries.
- Addressing the issues of political and economic marginalization, absorbing the energies of young people, who are fighters in the current wars, and paying attention to studying the rapid social transformations and their profound impact on the countries of the region, with forward-looking studies of the future of the current situation and its trends.
- Rejecting foreign interventions that do not take into account the general interests of the peoples of the region, and that what international organizations and bodies offer is not expected, given the size of the provision on the ground, especially in the humanitarian field.
Solutions for the Sudan require the following:
- In the first place, a firm stance to keep the Sudanese entity united.
- Reviving national solidarity.
- Searching for national solutions emanating from within Sudan chosen by the Sudanese.
- Reservation on many external initiatives.
It was also agreed that Libya should play a role due to the specificity of the relationship with Sudan, activate the Libyan-Sudanese integration agreement and the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States, and that Libya should seek different roles, including the relief and humanitarian aspect and work with the countries of the region in taking security and military measures to besiege gangs, mercenaries, terrorist groups, hotbeds of conflict and arms supplies.
- Libya should also seek, through official state institutions and civil institutions, to bring the views of the Sudanese closer together, to develop Libyan strategies and policy towards Sudan by opening humanitarian corridors to Sudan directly or through Chad for displaced persons in eastern Chad and the Darfur regions, hosting a consultative civil conference for the large components in Sudan, and Libya's active participation in all initiatives and platforms related to the Sudanese issue.
- Finally, cooperation with the Sudanese official authorities on the issues of refugee families, and the formation of four committees on the Sudan to deal with humanitarian, political, economic and security files, while calling for a scientific conference on international interventions in Sudanese affairs and neighboring countries, knowing the dimensions of these crises and addressing their effects.
In addition, the workshop called for the formation of a permanent high-level committee to follow up on the developments of the situation in the region and its effects, follow up on terrorist activity in the region and armed groups, submit proposals to the executive and legislative authorities and Libyan decision-makers, as well as recommendations related to the situation in Chad and international competition around it and its resources, the need to find a mechanism for supervision and follow-up to the implementation of the Doha Agreement and the formation of a joint committee of the parties to that agreement to implement it, and the call to support stability in Chad, establish peace and bring the views of the parties closer, and conduct a proactive assessment of the scene. Identify its trends and minimize the damage caused by this crisis.
On the subject of Niger, the recommendations on the security, political and humanitarian repercussions of the Niger crisis on the countries of the region came while praising the Algerian initiative and its call for a political solution, rejecting external interference, returning to the political track and preserving democratic gains. It is necessary to prepare for the creation of buffer zones to receive migrants from Niger and Chad funded by the Libyan government, while calling for development, discussing investment and development projects with the international community, proposing political diplomatic solutions from the countries of the region and assuming their responsibilities, especially Nigeria, Algeria, Libya, Mali and Chad, searching for consensual solutions aimed at development, especially in northern Niger, reviving security agreements with Niger, exchanging intelligence information, combating terrorism and cross-border crime, and forming a joint operations room.
Dialogue for stability
The conclusion we reached was to emphasize the fight against extremism and terrorism, to work immediately on integration and development projects among the countries of the region, to activate the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States and strengthen its role in the region, and to organize a forum that brings together Libya, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali, the European Union, the United Nations and international and regional organizations for "dialogue for stability and development".