Ibrahim Dabbashi, the Libyan envoy to the UN, from the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) government, came to the defense of Bernardino Leon the outgoing UN special envoy to Libya.
His defense actually reveals that Leon was biased against the Tripoli-based General National Congress government(GNC). The Guardian article showed that Leon was offered a high-paying job in the UAE in June while he was in charge of UN attempts to reach a political agreement between the two rival Libyan governments. Dabbashi claims the Guardian leaks show that Leon was well versed in complications of the Libyan situation and resistant to the pressure put on him by powerful countries. As well, he was committed to UN rules. Leon may have been well versed in the complications of the Libyan situation but it is not clear that he resisted the pressure put on him by the UAE to try to discredit the General National Congress government in Tripoli. While Leon did consult with the UN with respect to his negotiations for a job paying more than $1,500 a day as the head of a diplomatic college in Abu Dhabi, the UN clearly did not apply its own rules governing conflicts of interest.Dabbashi, in an article he published on his official Facebook page, accuses the M16 — the UK Intelligence Agency — of leaking the emails the Guardian published showing among other things that Leon intended to delegitimize the General National Congress and increase the power of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) government. Dabbashi thinks that the purpose of the revelations were not to defame Leon but to send a message to his successor Martin Kobler to begin the dialogue process anew and carry out M15 plans. For the difference between M15 and M16 see this site..Dabbashi believes the U.S., UK, and EU have a view of strategy in Libya that differs from that of the UN and the UN Security Council. The UN and UN Security Council regard the HoR as the only legitimate authority in Libya. However, the U.S., UK, and EU want to ensure the GNC had some power and representation in any unity government and the GNC armed forces are part of the process. Leon was trying toAs early as July, Leon had met with a number of commanders of militia in Misrata that he thought might support an agreement that the GNC and its main forces could reject. The speaker of the GNC parliament, Abu Sahmain, " found it strange that Leon had repeatedly met with revolutionaries of the General Staff without permission from the Commander-in-Chief or the GNC's dialogue team." This was part of Leon's plan to as Dabbashi put it to "disintegrate Libya Dawn." Some of the militia associated with Misrata and elsewhere had rocky relations with Tripoli and Leon could have enticed them to support him even when the GNC would not go along. Leon was eventually able to get numerous militia groups to sign a letter supporting a unity government. Leon held these meetings more than once. By early September as new meetings took place Sahmain not only complained to the UN but threatened legal action:The Middle East Eye has a long article detailing how Leon's strategies were being worked out in conjunction with authorities in the UAE. The article shows Leon was covertly working with the UAE to support the HoR side in the process while he was supposed to be an impartial mediator. One clear example of this is a letter sent to UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah al-Nahyan on December 31st last year:
"disintegrate Libya Dawn and shatter the alliance between the Islamists in the GNC and Misrata...in addition to pushing the armed groups out of the cities and creating a national unity government of moderate figures from both parties."Rather than defending Leon, Dabbashi's assertions, if true, confirm that not only was Leon partial to the HoR but he was actively attempting to foster division within the GNC government. He also was trying to "disintegrate" the Libya Dawn the main armed forces of the GNC. This would weaken the GNC and its bargaining power. There is ample evidence that Leon did pursue this policy.
GNC President Nuri Abu Sahmain has now threatened to take legal action against it because it had been in contact with military officers from the west of Libya without the permission of the GNC or the army. In a strongly-worded letter to UNSMIL chief Bernardino Leon made public yesterday, Abu Sahmain complained .. he had since heard that UNSMIL was making arrangements for a meeting with a number of “Revolutionaries’ Army leaders” from Tripoli, Misrata, Zintan, Gharyan and Zawya without giving notice to the supreme commander of the Libyan army – himself.These are clear moves meant to undercut the authority of the GNC and work with militia leaders independently of any chain of authority reaching back into the GNC government. These actions are clearly not neutral or impartial and involve advancing some of the actions that would be approved by the UAE.
“All my movements and proposals have been consulted with (and in many cases designed by) the HOR and Aref Nayed and Mahmud Jibril (with whom I speak on a daily basis) following Your request,” Leon wrote, capitalising “your” to reflect Abdullah’s royal status in Abu Dhabi. Mahmud Jibril is a prominent Libyan politician who lives in the UAE and who previously served as Libya’s interim prime minister during the 2011 NATO-backed revolution that overthrew the late Muammar Gaddafi. Aref Nayed is the House of Representatives (HoR) ambassador to the UAE.The full text of the letter can be found here. The article claims Leon's plan as set out in the emails was to reconcile the head of the HoR armed forces with the Misrata militias and have the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated GNC "disappear." This hardly worked out. No doubt working with a large team Leon was unable in many instances to do what he hoped to do. As far as his final draft Libya Political Agreement(LPA) is concerned some of the Misrata militia that he managed to divide from the GNC support it while Haftar rejects it. Ironically as well, the Muslim Brotherhood as a party supports the draft although there are deep divisions within the party. Leon often points to the LPA itself as evidence of his lack of bias. It is more likely it shows his inability to push his own agenda to the degree he would have liked. He was not working alone but with dozens of others to create the draft agreement.