Sunday, March 20, 2016

UN aiding another disastrous regime change scheme in Libya

The first regime change promoted by the UN was overthrowing the Gadaffi regime. Now, the UN is trying to overthrow both the internationally recognized government the House of Representatives (HoR) and the rival General National Congress (GNC).

There is always a moral narrative to go along with these regime change moves. In the case of overthrowing Gadaffi, it was Gadaffi's repression of rebels and bombing of his own people. It may be that the international community was hoping the new government would be easier to deal with on issues of oil. There was a UN resolution in 2011 that froze the assets of Gadaffi and his inner circle and also restricted their travel. Later, there was a resolution supporting a no-fly zone, justified by a claimed "responsibility to protect." This moral justification was used as a fig leaf to cover bombing clearly designed to degrade Gadaffi's fighting capacity. It took out all air defenses and destroyed most of his air force. Eventually the rebels were able to prevail and Gadaffi was killed.
Notice that in the photo, Faiez is called the prime minister rather than PM-designate.
The moral narrative this time is the need to destroy the Islamic State in Libya and to create a stable and eventually democratic government instead of two rival governments often at war. The plan was at first to have a Political Dialogue that would forge an agreement for a unity government and a peace agreement. The UN envoy Bwernardino Leon worked on this plan for more than a year. He was unable to have his final draft of the Political Agreement approved by either the HoR or the GNC. Martin Kobler, who took over as the Special Representative of the Secretary General, also failed to pass the LPA through either parliament. Nevertheless Kobler refused to accept any amendments to the LPA and said the Dialogue was over.
Kobler then abandoned the idea of an agreement between the GNC and LPA altogether. He invited a number of members of the Libya Dialogue who approved the LPA and the associated Government of National Accord (GNA) to Skhirat, where they signed the LPA on December 17. The members of the GNC and HoR who signed did so as individuals and were not authorized to sign by either parliament.
The original plan involved a regime change but one voluntarily accepted by the two parliaments. The GNC and HoR would agree to one government the GNA and themselves would dissolve. The Skhirat agreement was quite different. The GNA would establish itself in Tripoli and gain control of the Central Bank, and National Oil Company and also receive the billions in frozen funds coming to Libya. The GNA could buy off the opposing GNC government and HoR. The HoR would be the legislature of the GNA and so would dissolve in any event since if the members want salaries and their jobs, they should move to the HoR, which was the legislature of the GNA. Members of the GNC could have jobs as part of the State Council.
This new plan was designed not to satisfy Libyan needs except incidentally. The UN and international backers, especially in Europe, wanted the GNA to legitimize foreign military intervention against the Islamic State and also to deal with migrant problems. The GNC and HoR must be forced into accepting the GNA. The new plan had an apparently insurmountable hurdle. The LPA required that the HoR give a vote of confidence in the GNA and also make an amendment to the Constitutional Declaration of 2011.
The UN tried several times to get the HoR to vote on the issue. The first time the HoR demanded a smaller cabinet and also deletion of section 8 of the LPA, which gave the function of commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army to the Presidential Council of the GNA rather than Khalifa Haftar, present holder of the office. All discussion of this issue in the mass media has ceased. Attempts to vote confidence in the new GNA have resulted in either sessions without a quorum or sessions disrupted, with the result that there was no approval. In response, Kobler called together members of the Libya Dialogue in Tunis to find a way forward.
It appears more and more that Kobler will try and have the GNA up and running even if there is no amendment to the 2011 constitutional declaration nor any vote of confidence in the HoR as required by the LPA. The UN has constantly violated rules it has set up whenever they interfere with its plans. Nevertheless the international community is cheering them on at every violation. Even on the first day of the meeting in Tunis, the Political Dialogue said that the GNA would move to Tunis even though its term begins only after a vote of confidence from the HoR. I discussed this in a recent article.
A Reuters report now indicates the UN is going even further with a move that is pure power politics and a clear violation of the terms of the LPA: Libya's U.N.-backed Presidential Council called on Saturday on the country's institutions to begin a transfer of authority to a unity government, and appealed to the international community to stop dealing with any rival powers.The press will never point out this move is not legal and violates the LPA that established the GNA. It will not matter. There will be a huge chorus of cheerleaders praising this great leap forward into disaster. As Reuters points out it is not clear when a unity government can move to Tripoli given that some militia may try to stop them from operating and some temporary security officials have already been briefly arrested.
All of this scheming and activity violating the agreement must have a fig leaf. In this case it is that an alleged majority of the HoR signed a statement saying that they supported the GNA. So you do not need a vote of confidence. Perhaps they can sign another statement that they all support an amendment to the Constitutional Declaration of 2011. However, this would need a two-thirds majority. We will soon know if, as part of this scheming, Haftar retains his job or as Section 8 demands his job is taken over by the Presidency Council. I expect he will keep his job and the press will not even notice.
In a statement, the Presidential Council of the GNA urged institutions "to immediate make contact with the unity government in order to organise the modalities of passing over power in a peaceful and organised way." The statement also urged that the international community "cease any relations with executive authorities not linked to the unity national government." It would be nice to know who those authorities are. What happens to all the ambassadors appointed by the Tobruk HoR government. Who is the head of the army? This edict will not mean much to the GNC which is not internationally recognized anyway but it will be interesting what the response of the HoR is. The UN has more arm-twisting plans using the EU as several countries are suggesting sanctions against the bad guys such as the heads of the rival governments. There is a UN resolution that threatens sanctions against those who do not support the GNA and the "peace process." This resolution plays a similar role to the "no-fly" resolution which furthered regime change during the Gadaffi overthrow. It is a means of weakening those opposing the regime change.


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