After the last round of talks in Morocco, Bernardino Leon, UN special envoy to Libya, said the two sides are close to an agreement. The two sides are to return to Libya for consultations, and then this week resume talks to finalize the deal.
Last week the UN group was also to arrange talks with the two military forces associated with the two sides, Libya Dawn on the Tripoli government side, and the Libyan National Army of Khalifa Haftar on the Tobruk side. Nothing was announced during the week, nor was there any word on reactions to the proposals from the two rival governments.I have been sceptical of the whole dialogue process for some time. The EU and U.S. insist they favour a political solution and a ceasefire, yet they have done nothing to stop Khalifa Haftar from going ahead with an offensive against the Tripoli government and even bombing the Mitiga airport in Tripoli not once but three times before different stages of the talks. Haftar did all this in spite of warnings by the UN that those interfering in the peace process could be subject to sanctions. The UN says there can only be a political solution to the conflict in Libya but that is not Haftar's position:The Libya Herald, a source often supportive of the Tobruk government, reports the Tripoli-based government, the General National Congress(GNC), had rejected the latest UN draft agreement as "unbalanced." The full article is available only to subscribers. However, a pro-Tripoli source the Libya Observer on Facebook has more detail as to the reasons for the rejection.The GNC, in a statement, rejected altogether the UN proposal: "The draft solution is a big blow to the dialogue efforts and would make the previous Morocco dialogue rounds absurd, therefore, it needs to be withdrawn and replaced with another one." The statement went on to urge that the UN stand at equal distance from both sides and claimed the draft proposal presented by UN envoy Bernardino Leon did not include an inclusive and balanced solution to the political problems at issue.Fathi Bashagha, an elected member of the Tobruk parliament who has boycotted the meetings of the parliament(HoR), claimed that the draft proposal only served the interests of the Tobruk parliament and neglected the interests of the other negotiating party. The GNC deputy speaker and member of the dialogue team,Saleh Al-Makhzoom, clarified the issue:
He would not agree to any ceasefire with armed groups, he said.How does the UN expect to negotiate a ceasefire when one party claims that they will not agree to a ceasefire with the other side, the Libya Dawn militia? Why is there no criticism of Haftar for claiming the exact opposite of the UN position and who is following through by continuing military action? Where is the condemnation from the west of a Libyan government busy bombing and fighting against its own people? Of course Haftar claims he is fighting terrorists, the same narrative as Gadaffi used when he fought rebels. Haftar is fighting terrorists such as the Islamic State but so is the rival Libya Dawn militia. Haftar simply lumps all his opponents together as terrorists, as does Assad in Syria, and el-Sisi in Egypt, the latter a staunch supporter of Haftar."Then the military solution is a must because it is decisive ... when we are forced to, when we see our homeland torn apart as it is happening now, between militias and terrorists, we resort to a military solution. We are betting on the military solution," Haftar said.
"Bernardino Leon's proposal states that the dissolved House of Representative is the sole legislative authority, which is very serious that brings us to the zero point. The proposal aims to extend the mandate of the HoR and empower Khalifa Haftar."Each side has always regarded the other as illegitimate and have never met face to face. I have always been surprised at reports that imply that the GNC group had agreed that the HoR, that is the House of Representatives elected last June was the sole legitimate legislative body. On November 6 last year the Libyan Supreme Court ruled the June election was unconstitutional and that the Tobruk parliament should be resolved. This is the legal ground for the Tripoli government claim that it is the legitimate government. Libya Observer often refers to the Tobruk, internationally-recognized government as the "dissolved parliament" and itself as the "salvation government." Al-Makhzoon insisted that it was not seeking sole legitimacy for itself but a more balanced political solution and that the GNC would continue to participate in the dialogue despite its rejection of the draft. There appears no discussion of what is happening in the mainstream press and UNSMIL has not yet issued a press release updating the situation.