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Monday, March 21, 2016

UN Security Council gives its blessing to questionable self-empowerment of GNA

The UN Security Council has now issued a press release that gives its blessing to decisions of the GNA applauded by the UN which now recognize the GNA as the sole legitimate government of Libya.

The release on the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) website starts out:
The members of the Security Council welcomed the meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue on 10 March 2016, which reaffirmed its commitment to uphold the Libyan Political AgreementWhat commitment? There have already been numerous violations of the LPA. The UN takes no notice.
Next comes the fig leaf to cover the fact that the GNA suddenly becomes a functioning government without a vote of confidence by the HoR, as required in the LPA:The members of the Security Council noted that the Political Dialogue valued the declaration signed by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives on 23 February announcing their support for the Government of National Accord.
Of course it is not quite politically correct to say that they consider this actually equivalent to HoR approval and are acting as if it gave legitimacy to claim the GNA is now the actual government of Libya, as far as the UN and international community are concerned. Even the crassest power politics must pretend to observe the rules. The UN "notes" that the Political Dialogue "valued the declaration." In reality the letter is used as a substitute for the HoR vote of confidence. Nothing in the statement notes that at least three of the signatories denied they signed. However, one must keep up the proper appearances.
The next section goes through the motions of carrying on as if the HoR will see the light and vote confidence in the GNA:The members of the Security Council echoed the call made by the Political Dialogue for the House of Representatives to uphold its responsibilities in implementing all relevant provisions of the Libyan Political Agreement and for the Presidency Council to take steps to rapidly start working from the capital, Tripoli, in accordance with the security arrangements in the Agreement.
The UN cannot bring itself to simply say that the HoR must hold a vote of confidence in the GNA for this would make it too clear what must be done. Instead there is a resort to a vague general phrase "to uphold its responsibilities in in implementing all relevant provisions of the Libyan Political Accord." These include not just the vote of confidence but also an amendment to the Constitutional Declaration of 2011 to incorporate the GNA and give it a legal basis in the constitution. That has not happened even if the letter is regarded as an equivalent of the HoR vote of confidence. The UN will not mention key items such as that.
In calling for the Presidential Council to start working from the capital, the UN is in effect sanctioning the view that the GNA is now operating and should be in the capital as envisaged by the LPA. It can then take charge of the Cenral Bank, National Oil Company and Investment Authority and ask for the billions in frozen Libyan funds. It may then buy off opposition and starve rival governments of funds. All of this, assumes that the GNA term has started before the vote of confidence in the HoR as required by the LPA. So much for paying any attention to the requirements of the LPA.
The UN again pledges their support to the LPA as signed in Skhirat on December 17th. One wonders how they can do that since that agreement had three members of the presidency council whereas now there are nine. This is because somehow the agreement which Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) claimed numerous times could not be amended nevertheless was.
The Security Council next notes that their resolution 2259 of 2015 calls for " Member States to cease support to and official contact with parallel institutions that claim to be the legitimate authority but are outside of the Libyan Political Agreement as specified by it." But surely this applies only after the term of the GNA has started and this requires a vote of confidence in the HoR, along with an amendment to the Constitutional Declaration. The Security Council is violating the very LPA it has just vowed to uphold.
The Security Council calls on the GNA "to finalise interim security arrangements necessary for stabilising Libya, and in the regard called upon Member States to respond urgently to requests from it for assistance." The whole urgency of getting the GNA up and running is so it can request military assistance from the international community. There are various schemes planned with the U.S. turning Libya into a new front against the Islamic State, but other countries plan to be part of the mission. Most of them are among the huge chorus of cheerleaders already giving support to the illegal moves of the GNA no doubt with the urging of Martin Kobler. Even without being invited by the GNA to intervene many countries' special forces are already operating in Libya and there have been air strikes as well.
A key moral justification for military intervention and formation of a unity government is to fight terrorism. As the Council puts it:The members of the Security Council reiterated their concern about the growing terrorist threat in Libya, in particular from groups proclaiming allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and groups affiliated with Al Qaeda, and called on the Government of National Accord to urgently focus on combating this threat.Note that not only the Islamic State is regarded as terrorist but groups affiliated with Al Qaeda which would include Ansar Al-Sharia. This group belongs in some Shura Councils which the GNC supports. The statement does not rule out other groups being considered terrorist as well. Khalifa Haftar considers all the militia associated with the GNC as terrorists and his Operation Dignity is designed to defeat them militarily. This is another fact typically ignored in most reports on Libya.
Within the next few days we should have the reaction of the HoR and the GNC to these announcements. The withdrawal of international recognition will be most devastating to the HoR. The GNC is not recognized in any event. Perhaps, the international community will actually wait and see if the GNA can actually move to Tripoli. It does not seem that acceptable security arrangements are yet in place. Perhaps the GNA will ask for help in arranging this. France might answer the call:


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