Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Analysis of press release on Libya by Martin Kobler

Martin Kobler
This is a commentary on some parts of the report presented to the UN Security Council on June 6 by Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG). 

Kobler begins by outlining the dire humanitarian situation in Libya including 6,0000 families from Sirte fleeing their homes ahead of military operations there. He claims the number of displaced persons in Libya had reached 435,000

Kobler also makes reference to the immigrant situation, claiming that in May  1,100 migrants died in the Mediterranean. On the 26 May alone 500 migrants drowned off the Libyan coast. 

Although he mentions a shortage of health workers, essential medicines and supplies, he fails to note the lack of medical resources for treating those wounded in the fight against the Islamic State.

On the political front he notes that it is almost six months since the Libya Political Agreement(LPA) was signed on December 17th in Skhirat. 

His description of the event is typical puffery: "The signing was the first time that the Libyan people had dared believe again that peace and unity in Libya were attainable." 

The Dialogue from which the LPA arose was meant to result in an agreement between the two rival parliaments. When neither would sign, Kobler simply gathered together all members of the Dialogue who agree to the draft agreement the UN had circulated and had them sign. None of those who signed from the two rival parliaments were authorized to do so. Details such as this never come up in UN reports. 

He claims that the people of Libya welcomed the Presidency Council (PC) of the GNA to Tripoli but this he admits stands in contrast to their present sense of growing impatience and concern. The capital and other places have been plagued by a cash crisis and also frequent power outages.

The GNA has gone ahead without any formal vote of confidence in the HoR although Kobler and the GNA declared themselves up and operating from Tripoli on the basis of a letter from an alleged majority of the HoR approving the GNA in principle. 

Kobler also brought together members of the dialogue whom he claims gave a green light to move to Tripoli. Now all of a sudden Kobler admits that "Libya is without a formally endorsed government". He says it has failed because some of the parties to the agreement have failed to uphold their commitments. The HoR has never agreed to the LPA in the first place so it is difficult to see how they fail to uphold their commitments. 

The head of the HoR Ageela Saleh has nevertheless been sanctioned by the EU for obstructing the LPA process. He notes that the HoR has an integral role to play in Libya's democratic transition. The HoR under the terms of the LPA becomes the sole legislative body of the GNA. The GNA has been operating all along without a legislature. Somehow by hook or by crook the GNA must find a way to bring the HoR or more likely some of the members on board.

Kobler had praise for international organizations such as the Arab League for supporting the GNA. In the case of the Arab League and some of its members such as the UAE and Egypt they support Haftar as well.

Kobler ends by emphasizing six points necessary for Libya to exit from what he calls the current state of chaos. He  claims: "First, that the Libyan Political Agreement, endorsed by the House of Representatives on 25 January, remains the sole legitimate framework for managing the remainder of Libya’s political transition until a permanent constitution is adopted." 

Yet on January 25th this year Reuters reports: " Libya's internationally recognized parliament voted on Monday to reject a unity government proposed under a United Nations-backed plan to resolve the country's political crisis and armed conflict." Whatever, Kobler meant to say what he does say is not true. 

Second, that the House of Representatives remains the institution to endorse and swear in the Government of National Accord. The HoR also needs to vote an amendment to the constitutional declaration of 2011. The GNA has long been operating without a formal vote of confidence from the HoR. The ministries have been operating as well without being sworn in. The real problem for the GNA is that the HoR is the legislature of the GNA. The GNA has been operating without a legislature.

The fifth point that Kobler makes is that the PC is the sole legitimate recipient of international security assistance in its capacity of commander in chief. This statement is certain to anger Khalifa Haftar, commander in chief, of the Libyan National Army and his supporters. Haftar loyalists want him to remain as commander in chief of the army in the new government and Section 8 of the LPA which makes the PC commander in chief to be deleted.

Sixth, averting hostilities between different security actors fighting against the Islamic state "requires an inclusive interim security  arrangement, including temporary command and control arrangements for the army" However, at present there are mostly  just various militia with various degrees of loyalty to the GNA.  

A regular GNA army is something to be formed rather than existing. Since Kobler's statement Solid Structure has entered the IS stronghold of Sirte and the Petroleum Facilities Guard is advancing from the east as well. 

While Khalifa Haftar announced weeks ago that he was marching to free Sirte, he has yet to take part in the battle for Sirte. He is busy attacking Derna with Operation Volcano and in Benghazi.

No comments: