Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dilemma faces UN and Government of National Accord in Libya

The United Nations and the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) face a dilemma in Libya, after the internationally-recognized House of Representatives (HoR) failed to pass a vote of confidence in the GNA.

The HoR rejected both the GNA and the Libya Political Agreement (LPA). It demanded that there be a smaller cabinet for the GNA and also that section 8 of the LPA be deleted. The Presidency Council of the GNA is to send a new smaller cabinet list back to the HoR for a vote within 10 days. The vote rejecting the GNA was 89 of the 104 members present. The vote in favor of the LPA but with section 8 deleted was 97 of 104.
There are two sections 8. One is in the main text and requires that the Presidency Council function as commander in chief of the Libyan National Army immediately upon a vote of confidence in the GNA by the HoR. The vote of confidence begins the term of the GNA. However, there is an additional provision that gives the Presidential Council the role of commander in chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) as of the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement which happened on December 17:Article (8) All powers of the senior military, civil and security posts stipulated in the Libyan legislations and laws in force shall be transferred to the Presidency Council of the Council of Ministers immediately upon signing this Agreement. .
This section has simply been ignored up to now. I assume that when the HoR speaks of deleting section 8 they mean both sections. Somehow all parties have conveniently ignored the section 8 that gave the job of commander in chief of the LNA to the Presidential Council over a month ago. Naturally the international press has ignored it too. After all, it has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton.
Khalifa Haftar, the present commander in chief of the Libyan National Army, is hated by members of the GNC even those who signed on to the GNA. Haftar's Operation Dignity, which began back in May of 2015, in large part started the present conflict between the GNC and the HoR. As part of the Operation the parliament buildings were burned down. The present prime minister of the HoR, Adbullah al-Thinni, was interim president of the GNC at the time. He called Haftar's actions illegal and there was a warrant out for his arrest. Later, the same Al-Thinni as prime minister of the HoR appointed Haftar as commander in chief of the HoR Libyan National Army.
Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Libya (SRSG), has claimed a majority of the HoR support the GNA but they had met previously four times without a quorum and so could not vote on the issue. Kobler simply ignored that although a majority supported the GNA in principle they wanted changes to the LPA that would keep Khalifa Haftar as commander-in-chief of the LNA. Kobler has time after time insisted that there can be no changes to the LPA. The HoR previously would not vote because they did not want to approve an LPA that would deprive Haftar of his job. When they did vote they insisted that the LPA change so that he does not lose his position.
Kobler has suggested the LPA could be amended but only after the LPA is accepted by the HoR as it is, along with a vote of confidence in the GNA. However, the HoR is not likely to vote for the LPA if they do not have assurances that Haftar will stay on the job. If somehow the UN simply changed the agreement on its own after it has been signed, this would produce a huge uproar and would certainly be illegal. This would not matter. Ignoring the additional section 8 is probably illegal.The missing of the deadline for announcing the GNA makes the extension is probably illegal. The deadline for the vote of confidence in the GNA by the HoR is now passed. The 10-day extension for the HoR to vote confidence in the GNA is probably illegal. The HoR probably has no legal power to even provide the vote of confidence since its mandate ran out last October and it was not extended in a legal manner. None of this matters, since the UN backed by almost all in the international community sanction this illegality. They want the GNA up and running so they can have it legitimize foreign military intervention in Libya and that is what matters.
The international community wants to confront the Islamic State in Libya as well as stem the huge flow of immigrants crossing the Mediterranean into Libya. While UN Security Council statements blather on about the independence, sovereignty etc. of Libya they are already carrying out operations with special forces and more have entered recently. There are now articles indicating that the international community may be intending to intervene without being asked by a Government of National Accord. Several indicate that the U.S. will take the lead role. The only permission the foreign forces operating now may have is from the HoR government and no doubt Khalifa Haftar. The main problem that Kobler faces in keeping Haftar on the job is not any illegality involved but the political fallout it would cause.
The key problem that Kobler faces in creating some sort of deal where Haftar keeps his job, is that this will almost certainly cause the whole GNA to come apart, with those from the GNC leaving the GNA. However, if Haftar is not allowed to remain the GNA will also fall apart because Haftar supporters will leave the GNA. So far those opposing Haftar in the GNA have stood by while the added section 8 was clearly violated. Someone must have assured them not to worry that once the GNA was approved Haftar would lose his position. This apparently is exactly what Haftar supporters must feel and thus their demand that section 8 be deleted.
Haftar is strongly supported by Egypt. A recent tweet suggests the sanctions that the EU was supposed to impose on sanctions did not happen because of Egypt's intervention in support of Haftar. Now Haftar is busy pressing his case in Egypt: ..Army commander of Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament General Khalifa Haftar arrived to Cairo, in an unscheduled visit, as the head of the Libyan delegation.
The Prime Minister designate of the GNA and deputy minister Musa Koni went first to Algiers and then to Egypt. Serraj talked with Egyptian president el-Sisi about his cabinet plans as well as about the situation in Libya. The Libya Herald also reported that Haftar had met with Egyptian officials for two days and briefed Egyptian officials on the situation in Libya. A recent tweet also reports Faiez has gone to Haftar's headquarters in Marj to meet with him. We will know soon what the new scheme is to try and bring legitimacy to the GNA in spite of continued illegitimate processes. It will require a minor miracle for the GNA to continue without breaking apart.
The GNA will not get a vote of confidence unless Haftar is allowed to remain in his position. If Haftar is allowed to remain in his position, the GNC members will almost certainly withdraw from the GNA. Perhaps the UN intends to continue on anyway. Operation Dignity can be supported by the western powers as part of the war on terror and, in return, Haftar could give his blessing to the foreign intervention. Everyone would live happily ever after except for the resultant civil war.

No comments: