Working towards a Libya Peace Conference; Rebuilding on “The Ashes of a Country”

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Mon, 2018-09-17
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It has been just over one year since Tunisian national Rekaya el-Hafi [Rūqaīya al-Ḥāfī] explained the motivation behind her humanitarian work in one of our newsletters. This newsletter was translated into Arabic and played a significant role in her advocacy for equality between men and women in marriage. In the past, a Muslim woman was not allowed to marry a Christian man. However, since August 2017, “a Tunisian woman can choose her husband as she likes,” thus also a Christian, even though this is in violation of Islamic law as it has been passed on through the ages. Two couples have benefitted thus far from the change: an Egyptian Christian and a Spanish Christian, both of whom married Muslim women in Tunisia.


Rekaya el-Hafi is now supporting Libyans who want to bring Libya’s civil war to an end. This is humanitarianism for her: individual freedoms and people living in peace together.                                                                                                                                                                   

Lorena Stancu, a Romanian intern with an interest in Libya, had previously interviewed experts in the UK about Libya. In our office she met with Rekaya el-Hafi as well as a Libyan delegation that wants to initiate conferences in Egypt and in Europe to end the civil war that followed the death of Dictator Muʿammar al-Qadhāfī. The two main parties in the conflict are the governments in Benghazi and Tripoli, however in Tripoli; various competing militias rule the streets and neither of these two governments have much influence in the south. As fighting continues, youth are being kidnapped for ransom, or forced to join a particular party in the fighting, while medical facilities have collapsed and poverty in this once rich oil producing country is on the rise.


The civil war has claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives and has forced educated youth to flee the country.


The country currently numbers over 6 million inhabitants, however, if this civil war continues, the population will be reduced to 3 million by 2030 due to younger generations from all levels of affluence being forced to either take part in the civil war - even those who come from good families - or leave the country. Thus, “the generation that is supposed to help and fix the situation is disappearing and this is an issue that cannot be solved neither by general Haftar [Ḥaftar], nor the presidential council. It is something above them.”


Lorena has not only interviewed Rekaya el-Hafi and the Libyan delegation, but has also given an excellent overview of the complexities in Libya. We are very grateful to Prof. Abdallah Schleifer, Senior Fellow of the Arab-West Foundation, for reviewing her work.



We wish Rekaya el-Hafi and her Libyan friends much success in their efforts. The paper of Lorena shows this is a far from easy task. To read her paper, please click here.



The city of Den Haag in the Netherlands organizes a week of peace from September 17-22. The Arab-West Foundation organized a lecture for her on the evening of September 18. Please email me if you would like to attend.



September 17, 2018


Cornelis Hulsman


Editor-in-chief Arab-West Report