The International Conference on Development and Migration commenced today in Rome, hosted by the Italian government. The conference has convened representatives from over 50 countries along with UN agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders.
A key focus of the talks is addressing the protracted conflict and instability plaguing Libya. The Libyan delegations in attendance comprise officials from the outgoing Government of National Unity under Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah in Tripoli, and the head of Libya’s Presidential Council, Mohamed Al-Menfi.
Notably absent is Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army, which exerts control over much of southern and eastern Libya.
Some Libyan observers have critiqued the absence of Marshal Haftar, seeing it as overlooking a key figure in Libyan politics. They argue that including officials aligned with Dbeibah and Al-Menfi reflects only one side of the polarized political landscape.
It remains unclear what impact Haftar’s non-participation may have on dynamics along the ground in Libya. Some speculate it could strain Italy’s relations with the LNA. Others say the conference itself is unlikely to significantly sway political or security affairs.
Some observers have expressed concerns over Field Marshal Haftar’s absence from the Rome conference, questioning whether Italian officials fully grasp the complexity of Libya’s political divides.
“One must ask, does the government realize the seriousness of excluding such a pivotal figure?” said a Tripoli-based political analyst. “They risk alienating a whole swathe of Libya.”
Others have speculated whether Italy may prioritize relations with western Libya, where the UN-backed Government of National Unity still holds sway in Tripoli under Prime Minister Dbeibah.
“It begs the question – will Italy only consider western factions to be its ally?” posed a Benghazi-based journalist.
Some wonder what impact, if any, Haftar’s non-participation could have on security along Libya’s borders.
“Will Haftar’s forces continue to restrict illegal migration through the east and south?” asked a migration researcher based in Sabratah. “Or could this drive a wedge between Italy and the LNA, and see migration flows rise as a result?”
While observers debate the implications, definitive conclusions remain premature given Libya’s fluid politics. As talks continue in Rome, the path ahead for bridging Libya’s divisions and achieving stability remains uncertain. Italian diplomats have reiterated intentions to support Libya’s difficult transition, but compromises between rival factions in the war-torn country have proven elusive.