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As its crown prince, I want to see a new democratic Libya and a stronger Europe

origin 1People celebrate the Tripoli capture of Moammar Gaddafi’s son and former heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, in the rebel-controlled city of Benghazi, August 22, 2011 ©AP Photo/RockedBuzz via Euronews

As war rages in Europe and looms elsewhere, Libya and the Libyans face another choice and another potential cataclysm.

I know my compatriots can prevent another conflict and create a lasting system that reflects Libyan history, culture and values ​​that is authentically and vibrantly democratic.

Without engagement, however, at all levels of Libyan society and the support of international partners, Libya risks once again missing out on the opportunity to join the family of free nations as its people have always desired.

Unlike almost all other states in the Middle East and North Africa, Libya emerged organically as a democracy.

It is not a primordial nation, deriving from a deeply rooted concept of Libya that dates back 10,000 years. Indeed, the concept of Libyan identity does not rest on such an eternal justification.

Rather, the Libyans have chosen to exist.

Unity and democracy are deeply rooted in the history of Libya

They were forged by the North African chaos in the 19th century, when Libyans collectively decided to resist the brigandage that defined their territory and push back the slave-trading emirs of the southern Mediterranean coast.

In turn, Libyans fought for their identity, their right to be defined as a people with the ambition to live in peace and prosperity, resisting colonial occupation and Nazism in equal measure.

My late father, Hasan el-Senussi, Crown Prince of Libya, is the key to this nationality lineage, as is our family. Our family history is one of tenacious defense of the Libyan nation.

They chose… a democratic constitution that would protect the rights of minorities and guarantee freedom of conscience.

origin 1Libyan fighter displays graffiti he wrote on a wall in Al Ajaylat, 120km west of Tripoli, September 7, 2011Francois Mori/AP

His predecessor, Libyan King Idris, offered Libyans a choice after World War II. They chose unity, uniting the three political subdivisions of the region into one kingdom.

And they chose – with the full support and personal commitment of their new king, his advisers and his family – a democratic constitution, which would protect the rights of minorities and guarantee freedom of conscience.

They created the framework within which parliamentary democracy and representative government could flourish.

As a kingdom, Libya was democratic to the core

This makes Libya unique. Idris did not agree to concessions on the royal prerogative of him.

In fact, Idris never saw himself as a monarch with any fundamental right to power.

He was the head of the Senussi order, the Sufi religious order that had come to Libya more than a century earlier and had earned the trust of the Libyans through their honesty, impartiality and tenacious defense of their independence from foreign domination.

origin 1British Royal Navy officers meet Libyan King Idris at his palace in Benghazi, January 1952AP/AP1952

The fact that an independent Libya was a kingdom did not contradict its democratic essence.

Rather, the Libyan monarchy was a key part of Libyan democracy embedded in a constitutional political framework that corresponded to Libyan history, culture and political will.

It was the unifying symbol of national identity that made a functioning democracy possible.

Libya’s problems after the 1969 coup stem from the elimination of this democracy.

Yet Libyans still remember their democratic instincts, even though a decade has passed since the 2011 revolution, with the country remaining fractious and unstable, having endured two brutal civil wars.

International peace initiatives have failed because they ignored Libya’s history

There is no apparent path because external actors have not understood that Libyans are the key to lasting peace in their country.

Multiple political initiatives have failed to generate a constructive agreement precisely because they have all ignored Libyan history.

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Using a truly Libyan consultative mechanism, led by a Libyan, and employing a ready-made model for Libyan stability in the pre-1969 constitution would be a much more effective approach.

origin 1A protester holds a banner during a protest calling on militants from both governments to leave their area and avoid war, in Tripoli, July 2022Yousef Murad/Yousef Murad

Indeed, all polls and public opinion indicate that the pre-1969 constitution remains highly popular among Libyans and King Idris continues to be revered as the father of the Libyan nation.

Libya’s democratic constitutional monarchy does not need to win back popular support; that support already exists.

The most effective way for European powers to support the development of a democratic Libya is through the modification of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF).

The Libyan question is also European

The EU should consider supporting a new forum that explicitly includes the pre-1969 constitution as its focus and contains within it a variety of consultative mechanisms for a long-term transitional period.

Europe must assume a leading role at the international level, because the Libyan question is indelibly European. The history of Libya is linked to that of Europe.

Not only did the European imperial and fascist powers hope to conquer Libya. Even the Libyan people eventually sided with free Europe in its fight against fascism.

If Libya suffers once again under dictatorship, it will inevitably align itself with authoritarian revisionist powers who will use the country’s resources as a pawn in their geopolitical games.

origin 1Members of a British tank crew dig into their Christmas pudding during a break on their way to Bardia, January 5, 1941 AP/AP

Thus the establishment of a democratic Libya in 1951 stems, just like the resurrection of the French Republic and the creation of West Germany, from the victory of democracy over tyranny in Europe.

Libya’s European ties continued throughout the last century as it became a major energy exporter to the continent.

The current situation demonstrates the dangers of a hostile or divided Libya. If Libya suffers once again under dictatorship, it will inevitably align itself with authoritarian revisionist powers who will use the country’s resources as a pawn in their geopolitical games.

Europe cannot continue to turn a blind eye until North Africa explodes once again

But more likely, and more dangerous, is another spasm of violence that destroys Libyan hope for the future and gives further space to extremists, sectarians and private militias, unleashing another refugee crisis and a security crisis across the region. which is located on the southern coasts of Europe.

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War has defined the past year. It will redefine this as the world enters another period of military contestation and ideological rivalry.

origin 1A sniper from Misrata shoots at positions of so-called Islamic State militants in Sirte, Libya, September 2016AP Photo/Manu Brabo

Europe must seize the opportunity to ensure North African democratic stability, not ignore the problem until it explodes again.

Strategic ignorance will not only doom the Libyan people to further suffering. It will do the same with Europe.

HRH Mohammed el-Senussi is the Crown Prince of Libya and an active commentator on Libyan affairs since the beginning of the Libyan civil war.

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