After a closure that lasted 8 years, Morocco has begun the process of restoring its consular activities in Libya, demonstrating its willingness to resume normal diplomatic relations with Tripoli in the future. This initiative stems from various reasons, five of which have been identified by the think tank The Arab World Center. Here are the details.
Over the past two years, following the formation of the Libyan government of national unity in April 2021, Moroccan visits have taken place to assess the security situation in Libya and determine whether the resumption of diplomatic and consular relations is possible. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Living Abroad, Nasser Bourita, the Moroccan consulates in Tripoli and Benghazi will reopen their doors in the coming months.
According to the analysis of the think tank The Arab World Center published on its “Arab Wall” site, this decision was taken with regard to five main motivations. The first being for rrespond to the demands of the large Moroccan community in Libya, whose number is estimated at more than 100,000 citizens. Indeed, the interruption of consular activities had hampered the obtaining and renewal of official documents for this diaspora.
The representatives had previously proposed the creation of a Moroccan consular commission at the Ras Jedir border post on the Tunisian-Libyan border. However, this proposal proved impractical, as many Moroccans living in eastern Libya and other areas could not travel to the far west of the country to meet their consular needs. This had led to the establishment of a traveling consulate which operated temporarily only in Tripoli.
The second motivation is to increase the volume of trade between the two countries. Moroccan officials underscored this when commenting on the decision to restore Libyan consular representation. In November 2020, the Libyan Chamber of Commerce in Tripoli signed several agreements with the Moroccan Chambers of Commerce (Tangier – Tetouan – Al Hoceima) with the aim of developing commercial exchanges between the two countries, which are still weak, either around $100 million.
In addition, Morocco will this year host the Libyan-Moroccan Economic Forum with the participation of 100 Libyan business leaders and business dealers. ” It is widely accepted that the presence of direct diplomatic and consular mechanisms will help boost trade between the two countries.“says the same source.
As for the third, it is an introduction to full diplomatic normalization with Libya. For the Arab think tank, Rabat is limited to the appointment of consuls in Libya, without this step being associated with the reopening of the embassy, unlike most countries. ” Morocco is unlikely to take the step of full normalization before the success of the political process in Libya“, he estimated.
According to the analysis, the appointment of diplomats would constitute full normalization with and support for the national unity government in the current phase, which could affect Morocco’s role as a neutral mediator between all parties.
The fourth motivation concerns the relative improvement of the security situation in Libya. At present, many countries have announced the reopening of their embassies in Libya due to the relative improvement of the security situation, both in the east and in the west of the country.
Morocco is following this trend by deciding to resume consular activities in Libya first, before resuming direct diplomatic representation in a comprehensive manner. However, Rabat is taking its time to reopen its embassy in Libya, which will remain a delayed step until the country stabilizes in terms of security, the think tank continues.
Finally, Arab Wall connects the last motivation to recovery diplomatic relations between Algeria and Libya. ” Algeria reopened its embassy in Libya in December 2021, which Morocco considers an important step according to Libyan sources. Moroccan reports also indicate that Rabat is closely monitoring developments in relations between Libya and Algeria, as well as certain files concerning Morocco, particularly in the context of tensions between Moroccan-Algerian relations, in particular the Amazigh file.“explains the same source.
The think tank also did not fail to recall Rabat’s announcement of the appointment of a consul at the level of Oran in Algeria, an initiative considered by some Moroccan observers as reflecting a policy of “extended hand” to mend the existing fracture between the two countries. Others claim that the objective is purely administrative given the presence of a Moroccan diaspora in Algiers.