Sunday, May 3, 2015

UN seeks Libya peace deal by June 17 claims UN Special Envoy

After briefing the UN Security Council on the UN-sponsored dialogues in Libya designed to have the two rival governments agree on a unity government, Bernardino Leon, the UN Special Envoy, said he hopes to reach a deal by June 17.
Earlier, he had expected to have reached a deal already. However, his third draft proposal for a unity government was rejected by the Tobruk government. In his remarks to reporters after the briefing, Leon noted he had already heard from both parties. He said some responses were critical and others negative. He claimed his group was listening to the responses and trying to improve the draft to reach a consensus. Leon said:We all know very well and the actors involved in the dialogue know very well that there is no military solution. So, the fighting you can see in the country is mainly affecting the political dialogue and intended to hamper the political dialogue. This is what both of these actors are trying to do and this is why I explained to the Security Council that we need to start with the security track as soon as possible, we are trying to start first meeting as soon as next week.
Leon said he wanted to have face to face meetings as soon as possible.
It is not at all clear how Leon will be able to initiate the security track. The political groups must have enough leverage to force the military forces on either side to the bargaining table. There is little evidence that either side has such leverage. In the case of the Tobruk government, perhaps western governments have sufficient leverage but even that appears uncertain. Khalifa Haftar, contrary to the UN opinion, believes there is a military solution and has consistently rejected any dialogue with the Libya Dawn militia, the main military force associated with the rival Tripoli government:Operation Dignity has rejected an invitation from UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon to join in the military platform of the Dialogue process. It says it is part of the regular army, not a militia, and that it takes its instructions only from the General Staff and the head of the armed forces. It complained that Leon was treating it as just another militia. It did not negotiate or get involved in talks with militias, a spokesman said on Karama TV.
Operation Dignity was begun by Haftar back in May of last year. To a considerable extent Operation Dignity was the beginning of the conflict between the two rival forces that continues to this day. Haftar started by vowing to rid Libya of Islamists — or at least those opposed to him — and began by attacking two Islamist militia bases in Benghazi, but later the Operation burned down the parliament building in Tripoli. The government with the present prime minister of the Tobruk government, Abdullah Al-Thinni in charge, condemned Haftar's actions as illegal. Now the same Al-Thinni and his government give full support to Operation Dignity and have made Haftar commander of the Libyan National Army. Haftar is correct about Operation Dignity no longer being a militia. It is part and parcel of the Libyan armed forces and has the support of the Tobruk government. The UN wants to pretend that there are two militias involved and that somehow the Libyan army is a separate entity not involved in the conflict of the two parties. But Haftar is correct and the UN distinction makes no sense at all, but obscures the situation. Leon should be attempting to have discussions between Haftar as commander of the Libyan National Army and Libya Dawn as the two main actors in the security dialogue. It really does not matter that the Libyan National Army is not a militia, it is the armed force that is fighting with the forces allied with the Tripoli government. In any event, Haftar believes there is a military solution to the conflict and that is what he is pursuing. How Leon plans to get Haftar together with representatives of Libya Dawn for a security dialogue is not at all clear.
On one issue at least Libya Dawn and Haftar agree. Neither will agree to a dialogue with the other. Last Saturday, Libya Dawn rejected a call to join in a dialogue to end the crisis. They even demanded that the UN withdraw Bernardino Leon from Libya and called for demonstrations against the UN:"We demand the Libyans to demonstrate on Friday afternoon in all squares and fields to show Leon, the United Nations and all the conspirators against our people and our blessed revolution that confused the balance of all the world powers."Along with the GNC Tripoli government, the militia angrily reject the terms of the third draft of a unity government presented by Leon to the two parties. In particular they reject giving sole legitimacy to the Tobruk House of Representatives(HoR) ignoring the Supreme Court ruling that the elections for the HoR were unconstitutional and the HoR should be dissolved.
Leon was asked a question at the news conference after his briefing to the UN about the rejection of his draft agreement by the Tripoli government. Leon said he had talked about their rejection with them and noted that they did agree with some parts of the agreement and that they were continuing with the dialogue process and interested in improving the proposal. He also said that in talking with the representatives in Tripoli that they had been critical but not as negative as some of the reactions in public.
Leon also said that the continued fighting within Libya was of concern to the UN and the international community: At least for the moment, you can’t see any of the military actors strong enough to impose completely on the other. So, it is true that there is fighting everywhere in the country, but at the same time it is enforcing our argument that the only solution is political.The current president of the UN Security Council said members of the council had repeated their readiness to use sanctions against people trying to block the peace process. As I discussed in an earlier article General Haftar has continually snubbed his nose at the UN, calling the dialogue talks with terrorists, and claiming he would never talk with rival militias. He remains untouched. Now Libya Dawn has also thwarted the peace process and refused to cooperate. So where are those sanctions?


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