Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New UN Special Envoy to Libya flies to Tobruk for talks

- The new UN Special Envoy to Libya, German diplomat Martin Kobler, has flown to Libya for three days of talks to try and restart the UN-brokered Libya dialogue process.
As the Libya Herald notes, in a statement Kobler issued on the day he took over from his predecessor Bernardino Leon, he said ".. he would be meeting the various members of the Dialogue and the proposed presidency council as well as other Libyan key players to discuss what he called a “small number of outstanding issues”." According to the Herald, the "outstanding issues" are the names announced by Leon for posts in the proposed Government of National Reconciliation. According to the Herald:
 A significant section of the House of Representatives, mainly from the east of the country, have said that they will not accept some of the names and that the presidency council must consist of five members as originally suggested, not the nine in Leon’s final proposal.As I noted in a previous article it seems quite inappropriate that Kobler be meeting with the proposed presidency council since they have no status at all except as selected by Leon. The Herald also reports Kobler is opposed to any changes in the main text of Leon's final draft of the Libya Political Agreement(LPA). Kobler also says his talks will also be focused on security. He gives no indication of exactly how he intends to address that problem.
Another Herald report said Kobler was expected in Tobruk — where the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) government is located — on Sunday. The Herald suggests Kobler will look to rebuild trust in the UN Support Mission in Libya(UNSMIL). Detractors say UNSMIL stands for United Nations Sabotage Mission in LIbya.
Kobler's predecessor, Bernardino Leon, had close relations with the UAE, a strong supporter of the HoR government and General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the armed forces, who has all through the peace process carried on a military campaign against Islamists, including forces of the rival government, started back in May of 2014. Leon was in a clear conflict of interest situation but the UN did nothing and supported him until he finally left. Both the Tripoli-based General National Congress government and an American Libyan group have demanded an explanation from Ban Ki-Moon of the UN's actions in hiring and keeping him on while he had a conflict of interest. Among other conflicts, he accepted a more than $1,500-a-day job back in June in the UAE. The Herald, as mentioned, says that Kobler will likely try to rebuild trust in the UN after the distrust created by Leon.
Given that the GNC government should most distrust the UN, due to Leon's relations with the UAE, it is strange that Kobler flew to the HoR for his first talks. If he wants to create trust for the UN in the GNC he hardly will do so by saying he opposes any changes to the Leon main text. The GNC insisted that there be further amendments before they would accept the LPA. Some in the GNC want to start the dialogue from scratch again. One report says it is not clear that Kobler will even go to the capital Tripoli to consult with the GNC. It appears that Kobler is just interested in getting the HoR on board and is not worried about the GNC. The UN perhaps picked a successor to Leon whom they expect will carry on the same policy of imposing on Libya what outside forces want
As an indication that the UN is paying no attention to what is happening, the proposed head of the Government of National Accord(GNA) is in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials on the fight against terrorism. There is no GNA. The LPA is widely rejected. The UN is shown to be acting in accordance with the wishes of external forces and the game goes on as usual. There must be a GNA so that foreign interests can get permission for intervention in Libya.
Some on both sides are now suggesting there should be a Libyan versus Libyan dialogue between the HoR and the GNC, without the presence of the UN. As a recent article by Jason Pack suggests, it may be time to liberate Libya from the UN. At the very least, it should be liberated from a dialogue process in which there is huge international pressure to create a government regarded as the right one by many international powers, but opposed by many if not most Libyans.


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