However, the terms of any new political bargain are likely to be far more favorable to Hifter and the eastern faction than those of the existing Libyan Political Agreement.
The GNA and its Presidential Council are weak and becoming increasingly fragmented and irrelevant, as highlighted by the resignation of council member Musa al-Koni on Jan. 2. Egypt, Algeria and Russia have been hosting various meetings and negotiations between different Libyan parties to try to find a diplomatic solution to the political impasse that would include Hifter, with Egypt in particular pushing for the Libyan Political Agreement to be reworked to include Hifter as the head of the Libyan Armed Forces (a role the Presidential Council currently holds) and to reduce the size of the council.
The United States has yet to respond and risks being outmaneuvered by rival powers. Now is the time for increased US engagement. The Donald Trump administration will come into office with a unique opportunity to mediate a genuine settlement. Its first step should be the appointment of a special presidential envoy tasked with mediating a resolution between Libya’s main power blocs.
It is not yet clear whether Russia’s predicted global ascendancy will materialize, whether a new grand political bargain for Libya can be negotiated or even whether Hifter would halt his military ambitions to accept the terms of any new peace deal, no matter how favorable to him. However, it is certain that how external forces choose to engage with Libya over the coming months will decide the country’s political landscape for years to come.