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Sunday, April 17, 2016

EU ready to move security forces to Libya to help UN-brokered government

If requested by the new UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) the EU is signaling that it will move security personnel into Libya to help the new government.

A draft statement to this effect was seen by Reuters. Increased concern about the Libyan situation appears to be caused by fears that there will be a new uncontrolled tide of migrants into Italy unless some means can be found to prevent them from leaving Libya. EU foreign and defense ministers will meet this Monday the 18th of April. They will look into border and training missions in Libya. The initial training would be in Tripoli, where the GNA presidency council is located. A draft statement by the diplomats is expected to say:
 "The EU stands ready to offer security sector support in response to possible (U.N.) Government of National Accord requests..A possible civilian ... mission could support Libyan efforts ... through advice and capacity building in the fields of police and criminal justice."
The GNA does not yet have the support of the rival House of Representatives (HoR), located in Tobruk, although a vote was scheduled for this Monday. There is as yet no certainty that the vote will take place. The president of the HoR, Ageela Saleh, has recently issued very critical remarks about Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), and also the GNA led by PM Faiez Serraj. Before the HoR will approve the GNA and pass a constitutional amendment it wants assurances that General Khalifa Haftar will remain as commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) among other demands. The Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) section 8 assigns this position to the Presidency Council until a new chief is chosen. At present, Salah is sanctioned by the EU for not ensuring that the GNA passed through the HoR.
The foreign community is anxious to intervene but does not want to act too soon so that their actions could be taken as foreign interference. So far, the GNA itself has not shown any great desire for any military help. The Prime Minister of the GNA, Faiez Serraj, will speak for the ministers meeting via video conference.
There is already talk of a possible EU security mission involving French, Italian, British and U.S. military planners. The U.S. is anxious to have EU countries take the lead in any mission. The mission is called the Libya International Assistance Mission. Planners have already briefed EU diplomats on the mission, which would help protect key institutions such as government buildings, ports and the airport.
There are also discussions on the EU "Sophia" naval mission. The mission operates in international waters and destroys boats used by people smugglers, apprehends traffickers, and is meant to head off a new surge of migrants as other routes are closed down. The mission could be much more successful if it could operate in Libyan waters. This would require permission from the GNA and also a UN resolution.
Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi said:"It's fundamental that Libya has a government... Now we can work with an executive that isn't at the height of its powers, but it exists. In light of the fact that there is now a Libyan government, we will try to get the EU to invest in Africa to put a stop to the death journeys (on overcrowded boats) so we can have a decisively lower and more controlled migrant flow."
NATO also indicated that it would help.fight militants if the GNA requested military assistance. Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stotenberg. said that NATO had been in touch with the GNA and told the Presidency Council that it is ready to disarm militia groups and possibly provide military training in the future. Stoltenberg said: “We are ready to help.. But they have to request it – so we will not send in troops and we will not do any activities in Libya at all without a request from the Libyan government." There are already Special Forces from several countries including the UK, France, and the US in Libya. The UK apparently has a special vessel ready if there is a military operation as well. The international community may be waiting until the GNA is more firmly established before further action is taken. Especially in the east of the country, the future of the GNA is uncertain, until the HoR approves of the new government.


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