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Thursday, June 30, 2016

GNA foreign minister meets with top NATO officials in Brussels

Mohamed Siala, foreign minister in the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), met today in Brussels with the head of NATO, and the EU policy chief to discuss how each organization could help improve security in Libya and on its borders.

NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said he was encouraged by the progress being achieved by the GNA. He focused on how NATO could help in terms of defense and security. At the 2014 NATO summit in Wales NATO said it would help Libya build its defense and security capacity if it were asked by the GNA to do so and was in harmony with the EU and UN. No details of the discussions have been released although a statement noted that the meeting followed a recent conversation between Stoltenberg and the PM of the GNA, Faiez Serraj. as well as contacts between NATO and other GNA officials.
The meeting of Siala with Federika Mogherini, EU policy chief, concentrated on discussion of security on Libya's southern borders. Human trafficking is one concern but there is also arms smuggling through the borders as well as terrorists entering Libya from other countries, particularly some of the Sahel G5. One topic was how to prevent asylum seekers dying in the Sahara desert. The Sahel G5 are Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Mogherini said: “There is a shared concern with the Sahel over security and the management of borders with Libya. For us, supporting cooperation with border countries to the south of Libya – such as Chad, which has experiences to share – is fundamental.”
The naval operation Sophia was also discussed. The UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the operation to allow vessels to counter human trafficking and operate within Libyan waters. It will include stop and search operations. There were no details released about what was discussed on Sophia. The two were also to discuss training of the proposed presidential guard. The GNA is in dire need of armed forces of its own rather than having to rely on militia for security. Often the GNA is at the mercy of the militia. Power distribution in Tripoli is determined by different militias who insist power continue to be provided to areas they control. Recently 12 former Gadaffi soldiers were murdered on their release from jail. Militia may have been responsible for the killing.
Mr. Sala is acting as Minister of Foreign Affairs even though the GNA has yet to receive a vote of confidence from the House of Representatives(HoR) as required by the Libya Political Agreement (LPA). Another meeting is scheduled on Monday but earlier meetings have either lacked a quorum or in two cases been disrupted. A meeting scheduled for last Monday lacked a quorum. In spite of Stoltenberg's praise of the GNA's progress Libyans in Tripoli and elsewhere are facing crippling power shortages, lack of cash, and recently in Tripoli a lack of water.


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