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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

No peace agreement signed at UN meeting on Libya

There has been a high-level meeting on Libya at the UN in New York with representatives of over three dozen countries including the United States, Russia, China, the UK, Germany, France, and even Canada. The EU, AU, and Arab League had representatives.
The group convened to lend support for the Libya Political Agreement(LPA) along with negotiators from both rival governments, the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) based in Tobruk and the General National Council(GNC) based in Tripoli. As part of a joint statement the group said: They reaffirmed their strong opposition to any military or unilateral solution to the conflict.
The reality is that the commander of the HoR armed forces Khalifa Haftar has been pursuing a unilateral military solution through his Operation Dignity, begun over a year ago in Benghazi. It is designed to rid Libya of Islamists including not just radical jihadists such as the Islamic State, which the GNC also battles, but Libya Dawn and other armed forces of the GNC government. The HoR government of Abdullah al-Thinni has supported Operation Dignity even though when Haftar had the parliament buildings burned in 2014, Al-Thinni condemned the action. There was a warrant out for Haftar's arrest at the time but as PM of the new HoR government the same Al-Thinni appointed Haftar as his commander in chief. It is not clear how much if any power Al-Thinni has over Haftar. Al-Thinni has twice recently been prevented by Haftar forces from leaving the country. UN press releases never mention Haftar or Operation Dignity nor any of this background.
Another section of the joint statement reads:The meeting called on the participants of the Libyan political dialogue to urgently conclude the process without delay, in accordance with the timeframe outlined by UNSMIL, and to endorse and sign the Agreement leading to the formation of a Government of National Accord. The meeting also stressed the need to form the Government of National Accord without delay and prior to 21 October 2015. ..They also underscored the need for proper security arrangements, including a cease-fire, to create a conducive environment for the implementation of the agreement.
The reality is that the HoR envision talks possibly going beyond October 20 and are intending to extend their mandate. Haftar would like a military council to run the HoR government after the mandate runs out. Both parliaments were supposed to have approved or disapproved the final draft over a week ago. Neither appears to have done so. Both governments are sending negotiators to New York under intense pressure. Neither side wants to be seen as the spoiler of the agreement. There is no guarantee that the two parliaments will agree to what their negotiators sign. Both governments no doubt hope that the other side will reject the agreement. Whoever rejects the agreement first can expect to be punished by the international community and the other side supported.
The HoR parliament did reject the draft earlier but the UN managed to spin this as not a rejection and convince the HoR to send negotiators back to the dialogue after they had been recalled. At times, Leon appears to want the GNC to reject the LPA but he made amendments in the last draft that met some of the GNC concerns, resulting in rejection by the HoR. It is not clear what promises he made to get them to return. However. the president of the HoR, Ageela Saleh, was allowed to address the UN in which he said that the HoR wants a final peace deal draft that does not "reward" those who seized the country's capital Tripoli. He is talking of the GNC armed forces Libya Dawn. Giving the GNC any power in the new government would seem to be such a reward. The amendments in the final draft do give some powers to the GNC which is why the HoR rejected it.
The reality as to security arrangements is that Khalifa Haftar has refused to contemplate a ceasefire with the forces of the GNC government. He considers them terrorists and to be defeated rather than treated as negotiating partners. Leon and the press no longer even mention a parallel military dialogue. The most Leon seems to have done is split the Tripoli forces by meeting with some commanders without consulting or gaining permission of the central command. He was to meet with HoR commanders in Cairo but never reported back, nor did he ever say who was to be involved. Haftar rejects the LPA. So disruptive has Haftar been to the peace process, that he was named along with his air force commander as subject to sanctions by the EU. The sanctions were apparently never carred out. Haftar has since signed a military agreement with Jordan. Jordan, Egypt, the Arab League, and UAE all were involved in the joint statement. An intelligence report only available for pay claims:After having recently been under threat of international sanctions (>MC 1165), Khalifa Haftar has begun a discreet return to favour in Europe. According to different sources, the head of the “legitimate” eastern army has been invited to represent Libya at [...]
Nevertheless, the UN joint statement says: Participants warned that those who actively obstruct or undermine the political agreement would place themselves outside the realm of political and international legitimacy and would be held accountable, as per relevant Security Council resolutions.Haftar probably pays more attention to what actually happens than what all these worthy countries say. Haftar has regularly snubbed his nose at the UN and laughed off the the sanctions threat. Meanwhile he together with the HoR chastise the international community for not sending him more arms.


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