Monday, May 16, 2016

U.S. places sanctions on speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives

The United States Treasury Department has sanctioned Ageela Salah, president and speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) for blocking the formation of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

John E. Smith, acting director of the department, claimed that Salah "is responsible for stalling political progress in Libya. Today's action sends a clear message that the U.S, government will continue to target those who undermine the peace, securiity, and stability of Libya." He said that all property and interests of property of Salah that were within the jurisdiction of the US or in the control of Americans are blocked. and that Americans were "generally prohibited" from carrying out any transactions with him.
The U.S. action follows that of the European Union which also sanctioned Salah some time ago. However, the EU also sanctioned Nouri Abusahmain president of the General National Congress (GNC) based in Tripoli and Khalifa al-Ghwell PM of the GNC's Salvation Government. The GNC and the Salvation Government have lost virtually all of their power and ministries to the UN-brokered GNA. Neither of the two have much clout any more and have not been able to stop the GNA from taking power from it. The U.S. also sanctioned al-Ghwell in April, as shown on the appended video.
Back in July of 2015, the EU had actually decided to sanction Khalifa Haftar, commander in chief of the Libyan National Army associated with the House of Representatives and his air force commander. However, the sanctions were never carried out and were ridiculed by Haftar. Since the sanctions threat Haftar has gained the support of Egypt, the UAE, the Arab League and Jordan, although many of his supporters also pay lip service to the GNA.
The HoR has met numerous times to vote confidence in the GNA but every meeting has either lacked a quorum or has been disrupted. While Salah may share some of the blame others no doubt contributed as well. The HoR is also influenced by the position of General Haftar, who wants to remain commander-in-chief of the LNA under any new unity government. Even those who support the GNA in principle want section 8 of the Libyan Political Agreement deleted as it removes the function of commander in chief from Haftar and puts it in the hands of the Presidential Council. In a recent move to set up a unified command to oversee the attack on the Islamic State, the Council made reference to this power. It is not clear what Kobler is intending to do now.. He needs the HoR to vote confidence in the GNA so that he will have a legislature as part of the GNA. The HoR is the sole legislative body of the GNA. He tried setting up a meeting in Ghadames attended by members of the HoR who approved the GNA but it so far has failed to materialize.

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