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Monday, December 14, 2015

UN and international community need new Libyan government to approve military intervention

The UN dialogue process was supposed to result in a political agreement(LPA) between the two rival Libyan governments as well as an agreed Government of National Accord(GNA).

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Before leaving his post as Special Envoy to Libya and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya(UNSMIL), Bernardino Leon had drafted an LPA. and suggested names for senior members of the GNA. However, Leon was never able to get either parliament to approve the final draft. Both the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) based in Tobruk, in the east, and the General National Congress(GNC) in Tripoli never voted on the draft. When Martin Kobler took over Leon's role last November 17th, he refused to open up the draft for amendments and also insisted that the names suggested by Leon remain. In spite of the fact that there was no GNA, the senior officials were treated as if they had the status of actual officials and visited with officials from different countries. Kobler also held discussions with them. There were even several international meetings to plan how to provide aid for a GNA that did not exist.
Meanwhile, Kobler was no more able to get either parliament to pass the UN LPA than Leon was. One recent meeting to take a vote was suspended after a fight but with no vote. Kobler next move is so outrageous that it seems impossible that it should be happening. It only makes sense if the UN plans a coup in Libya bypassing both existing governments and claiming legitimacy for their own creation. Of course it will never be called that. There will be a legitimate government resulting from an agreement among Libyans or as Kobler would have it “some 40 courageous men and women who take considerable risks to put the interest of Libya above personal interest”.
Many in the international community are desperate to a create one new Libyan government, one that will in return for aid allow military intervention in Libya. This will all be done in the name of fighting the Islamic State which is portrayed as if it is vastly enlarging its territory in Libya when in fact it could be argued that the opposite is the case since it has lost its original main base in Derna and been driven into the mountains and outskirts there. It is mainly in Sirte and area.
Plans for military intervention in Libya have been brewing for some time as I noted back in August. Lately the drumbeats for intervention and the chorus of cries about the dangers of the Islamic State in Libya have reached a fever pitch. The Telegraph reports: Italy has been drawing up plans for a European military coalition to back any Libyan Government and seeking allies to lend help.
Any plan would have to wait for Libya to appoint a recognised national government.Of course Libya is not going to appoint a recognized national government, a few chosen by the UN because they agree to the UN plan will do that. The two rival governments will not be involved, not even the internationally-recognized one. Britain too is ready to join the fray: Ministers at the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence say they are “extremely concerned" by the rapid rise of Isil and other extremist groups in Libya and are considering plans for intervening to tackle the threat.Kobler announced after a recent meeting with some Dialogue members in Tunis, none of whom were there as designated negotiators for either parliament, that signing of the LPA would be on December 16th. There was no mention of the LPA being approved by either parliament nor did he say who would sign. A reaction by the GNC and its head negotiator soon made it clear why. None of the GNC participants were authorized to attend the meeting by the GNC. I expect the same is true of the HoR, but the usual mouthpiece for the HoR, the Libya Herald, seems to have changed from being a mouthpiece for the HoR to being a mouthpiece for the UN. It reports nothing of the HoR reaction so far.
Kobler announced, as reported in the Libya Herald, after meeting with the UN Security Council where he sought support:The House of Representatives and the General National Congress are in danger of breaking up, new UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler has told the UN Security Council. Kobler explained to Security Council members “ I have no illusions about the difficult realities that confront us in Libya. The two institutions at the centre of the political conflict in Libya are beginning to show dangerous signs of internal fragmentation”.
Kobler does not bother to explain that the fragmentation is caused by his constant demands that there be a vote on the LPA which neither wants to hold because it is so divisive. If it were to pass in the HoR there would probably be a military coup because Haftar opposes it.
Kobler notes that his talks with Dialogue members were called "in the face of the continuing inability of both the HoR and GNC to endorse the LPA". So instead of concluding that the LPA would not work and needed to be changed, Kobler decides to bypass the two rival governments altogether. He ends by claiming that there was an agreement that the LPA will be signed December 16th. He has gone behind the backs of the two rival governments that he is supposed to be helping reach an agreement and picked out 40 people who agree with the UN plan, no doubt motivated by various carrots and sticks.
Kobler points out all the problems that Libyans face particularly emphasizing the danger from the forces of extremism and terrorism and then claims that many dialogue participants said: They had also said that the future Government of National Accord should be able to assume its responsibilities in Tripoli without threats and intimidation. This needed a collective agreement on security. Kobler told the Security Council that he was thus taking the opportunity to “call directly on the leadership of the General National Congress to allow my colleagues and myself to land with our airplane in Tripoli and other cities in Libya to freely interact with whomever we deem necessary. We can only fulfil our mandate if we have free access to all security actors, particularly in Tripoli”.What mandate is that? To push through an agreement not approved by the GNC indeed an agreement meant to avoid having them involved and then demand that they cooperate with a government the UN imposed? The UNSMIL mandate was to forge an agreement between the two rival governments.
Kobler will be fortunate if he can land his plane anywhere in Libya. Even in talking of broadening the base of his support, Kobler fails to even mention either government: “Once the agreement is signed, we will immediately assist in broadening the basis of support for the new Government which should ultimately be based in Tripoli. Through engagement with the militias, political parties, tribal elders, and civil society, we will advocate for the acceptance of the Libyan Political Agreement”.They are not going to dialogue with these groups, they will simply advocate for the acceptance of the LPA. There is no mention of what role if any the commander of the Libyan National Army is to play in all of this. He opposes the LPA. Haftar is supported by Egypt, the UAE, and the Arab League. Haftar is the unmentionable and I suspect untouchable.

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