Questions about proposal to sign Libya Political Agreement Dec. 16

Martin Kobler, now often referred to as SRSG or Special Representative of the Secretary General in Libya, has just released a new statement that sets December 16th as the target date for signing the UN-brokered Libya Political Agreement(LPA).

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As usual, UN news releases are noteworthy not for what they say but what they leave out. While announcing the signing date, there is no mention of the parliaments of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) based in Tobruk nor the rival General National Congress(GNC) based in Tripoli. To be legitimate any signature would need to be subsequent to approval by each rival government. There are only a few days left before December 16th. How does the UN plan to have the LPA move through the parliaments in this time when it has been unable to force a vote for months now? Is the UN intending to bypass the parliaments and simply chose select members who support the LPA from the HoR and GNC to sign the LPA? This is a recipe for division and disaster, if that is what the UN has in mind. It is worth quoting Kobler's recent release in some detail:
We had two days of very intense discussions with the Libyan Political Dialogue, and I was very happy to have the members of the Libyan Political Dialogue around the table. And I felt a big consensus; I felt that there is urgency and that the clock is ticking for the sake of peace, security and prosperity in Libya. ..There was a wide consensus that only through rapid signature of the Libyan political agreement the country can be brought back to unity.
You heard what was announced by Mr. Shoueib and Mr. Makhzoum just now, the Libyan political dialogue agreed on a target date for the signature on the 16th of December.
Notice that Kobler said that he had members of the Libyan Political Dialogue around the table. He did not say whether they were authorized to be there as representatives of the rival parliaments to sign any agreement. He did not speak of them being the negotiating teams of the respective parliaments. This is significant because I expect that these are select members of the Dialogue chosen because he could get them to sign on to the LPA. Several times before both rival parliaments have rejected decisions of their representatives as well. There is no reason to think this time would be any different. Certainly the HoR would not accept the LPA as it is, since it takes away Haftar's job as commander in chief of the Libyan National Army. Who knows what Kobler is promising to get people to sign on. Note that the announcement of the target date was not by the president of either parliament but: "... by deputy House of Representatives (HoR) president Emhemend Shouaib and the General National Congress’ (GNC) deputy president Salah Makhzoum following two days of Libya Dialogue talks in the Tunisian capital chaired by UN Special Envoy Martin Koble."
The reaction to the announcement by the GNC has been swift. It denounced the announcement and said that none of the members from the GNC at the dialogue were there as representatives of the GNC. The head of the GNC dialogue team Awad Abdul-Sadiq said: "The GNC did not mandate anyone to attend the meeting. The GNC has demanded explanations from the UN Secretary General about the leaked emails of Leon."Awad said that the only official dialogue was held on December 5th in Tunisia together with representatives from the HoR which agreed to a rival plan negotiated directly by members of the two rival governments. He said however that the GNC was willing to cooperate with the UN in a solution to the crisis. He also noted that Al-Makhzoom had resigned from the negotiating team back in August.
Kobler is already double-dealing, deepening divisions and making any peaceful solution to the situation quite unlikely. It appears clear that he has chosen a select group of dialogue members to push his own agenda which he is unable to pass through either parliament. He will no doubt be able to count on the UN Security Council signing on to support this charade. This Sunday there will be a gala group of cheerleaders to pressure the parties to sign on to the LPA:U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Rome this weekend for a high-level gathering on the crisis in Libya. The State Department says Kerry will co-chair Sunday's meeting with Italy's foreign minister.
Some old guy with a beard once said that history repeats itself the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce. In the case of the UN both happenings are a mixture of both tragedy and farce. Here is a quote from the first gala meeting of cheerleaders in early October at the UN in New York, a first attempt to apply huge international pressure to sign the same UN-brokered LPA:Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, has called for Libya’s factions to end their civil war after yet another deadline passed without a ceasefire and fighting raged on across the country. At a meeting in New York originally planned to celebrate the signing of a UN-brokered peace deal, Ban appealed to the country’s rival governments to come together. “No agreement is perfect, but this document will help Libya move beyond the chaos,” he said.
No doubt the Kobler's present machinations are an attempt to do an end run around the competing Libyan only agreement between the two rival governments. It may also be an attempt to do an end run around passing the LPA through the two parliaments. Even if this works, the move will create worse divisions and further resentment against the UN and foreign intervention in Libya. It leaves totally unsolved the problem of enforcement when there is no parallel military agreement and the commander of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar will never accept any agreement that removes him from his job.
Zeina Khodr, an Al Jazeera correspondent unlike much of the mass media asks some pertinent questions:"We need to know where will this government be based? And whether all members of these two institutions are on board?If you don't have main political and military actors onboard, this could be a recipe for further disaster."Khodr also noted that there is no mention of Khalifa Haftar in the statement. Is there some understanding that he will remain as commander in chief? There is no way he will stand by and let the GNA take away his job or allow the HoR to sign an LPA that does so. Kobler did not take any questions after the press statement.


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