Wednesday, September 23, 2015

US, UK and many other EU countries voice support for Libyan dialogue

France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K., and the United States all welcomed the ongoing UN-sponsored dialogue in Skhirat, Morocco and voiced their support for the process and UN Special Representative for Libya Bernardino Leon.
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The group also urged all the parties to participate constructively in the talks to reach a comprehensive agreement. This would include a conclusive decision on candidates for the Government of National Accord(GNA) by Sunday September 20. This would allow the agreement to be endorsed by all the parties by the end of September and the GNA to take over by the 21st of October, when the mandate of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives Government (HoR) runs out.
The group also condemned any kind of violence or intimidation against any party involved in the dialogue process. Those aiming to derail the process they claimed will be held accountable. There is no mention of specific names of those that were supposed to be subject to EU sanctions. These included former CIA asset Khalifa Haftar now commander of the Libyan National Army, the armed forces of the internationally-recognized HoR government. It is not clear that he was ever actually sanctioned and the press does not seem interested enough to report on the issue. He has recently been promised support by the Arab League and is already supported by Egypt. He also signed a military agreement with Jordan. He rejects the UN-brokered agreement and did so even before it was amended. The HoR accepted the earlier draft but rejected the amended draft that addressed concerns of the rival GNC government.
The international community itself applied a great deal of pressure and used intimidation tactics against the GNC delegation when they refused to initial an early draft that had been amended by Leon, without consultation with or approval of their negotiators. The international community wants a new government in place that they hope will sanction a planned foreign intervention in Libya again. The refugee crisis and the Islamic State threat will be used as justifications this time around. The group said: Time is running out for Libya to address its critical humanitarian, economic, and security challenges, including the spread of Da’esh/ISIL-aligned groups and of criminal organizations engaged in smuggling and trafficking in persons. ..The international community stands ready to provide significant economic and security assistance to a united Libya as soon as the new government is agreed. It is clear that we are going towards a process of reconciliation in Libya, and no party should fear it.
It remains to be seen how much reconciliation there is. At the military level of Haftar and the Tripoli militia forces, there is no reconciliation at all. Haftar has just announced a new campaign against Islamist groups in Benghazi. This is where the conflict began with Haftar attacking Islamist bases in Benghazi beginning his Operation Dignity in May of 2014. He intends to defeat Tripoli militarily.
The GNC representatives to the talks just arrived this morning at the talks. Apparently they did not present names for one of the prime minister's deputies as the UN had asked. Leon announced that there was a deal between the HoR delegation to the dialogue and 25 members of the HoR who had been boycotting the parliament, many of them with links to the Tripoli government or areas controlled by them. The agreement would see the group rejoin the HoR. Details as to the deal or as to when they would rejoin the HoR were not given. I thought incorrectly that the deal was between the two negotiators of the HoR who remained at Skhirat when they were called back to Tobruk and the two who went back as demanded by the HoR stayed in Tobruk and "boycotted" the dialogue. The two who went to Tobruk are not reported as having gone back.
The agreement that Leon finds so positive is apparently only between the two HoR negotiators, who remained at Skhirat and the boycotters. One of the two negotiators has apparently returned to Tobruk to try to convince the HoR to accept this sub-agreement. The HoR is to have a meeting tomorrow September 20 to debate the deal approved to have the boycotters return to the HoR. The draft Libyan Political Agreement(LPA) must be approved by the HoR as well. Perhaps they will discuss this too at their meeting. The present HoR members may be reluctant to allow the boycotters to return until after the vote on the LPA since many of them are probably favourable to the amended draft. Most are associated with areas controlled by the GNC government. If the HoR present members reject the LPA, Leon may insist that the boycotters also should vote on the issue. This would create more conflict. We should know by late Sunday or early on Monday how the process is developing.

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