Middle East Eye interview with UN Special Representative of Secretary-General, Martin Kobler
In a wide-ranging interview with Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Martin Kobler, the Middle-East Eye discusses with him the many challenges he faces in trying to get the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) established.
|Kobler has had many tough jobs before. He served as a diplomat in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The article notes that Kobler's job was made even more difficult as he took over from Bernardino Leon, who accepted a lucrative job in the UAE — which was backing the internationally recognized government the House of Representatives, one of the two rival governments. Emails show he was working closely with UAE authorities as well. Incredibly, this clear conflict of conflict was simply denied by the UN and he himself said it was only "bad optics." Kobler had no criticism of Leon only praise:|
“Leon is Leon and Kobler is Kobler,” he said, adding that Leon did a “great job” of putting together a political agreement that has laid the groundwork for a new unity government in Libya.
The unity government was agreed as part of the Libyan Political Agreement in December, which was a product of the Libyan Political Dialogue, where representatives from a broad spectrum of society came together to negotiate a route out of the current political crisis.No mention is made that the LPA was supposed to be approved by both the internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR) based in Tobruk and the rival General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli. Neither parliament ever signed and those members who signed the LPA from the two parliaments were not authorized to do so.
“We have to be very clear with the words. Intervention against the will of a state is often incorrectly mixed with military assistance. Intervention is where you intervene against a state and military assistance is something requested by a state. One is against sovereignty and the other is respecting the sovereignty.”Many critics might claim that the GNA is being pressed upon Libyans so that foreign military intervention can then be requested justifying the intervention.
“The fight against Daesh is something that has to be dealt with on a priority basis. The security in Libya has to be restored – a united Libyan army has to be formed because the main fight against Daesh is for the Libyans themselves. Libyans have to come to grips with forming a united army – we are willing to assist them – and then to go against Daesh. If they then request the assistance of foreigners so be it. But this is really the second step and we should now concentrate on the first step.”The article notes that this may be difficult and that the issue of Libya's army has been a constant stumbling block to establishing the GNA. As it is now, the GNA is protected by armed militias. Most of the Libyan National Army(LNA) consists of former militia of General Khalifa Haftar whose headquarters are in the eastern part of Libya. He was appointed commander in chief of the LNA by the HoR government of Al-Thinni.
The reluctance behind some in the east to approve the GNC is Article 8 of the LPA, which stipulates that “all powers of the senior military, civil and security posts... shall be transferred to the Presidency Council”.This has been interpreted by some as endangering the position of Haftar, who reportedly opposes the idea of his power being reduced or overseen by a defence minister.Notice the qualification "interpreted by some." Notice too that the majority who approve the GNA also want Article 8 removed as the article notes later. The article noted that Kobler would not specifically discuss Haftar. Kobler did not discuss Haftar's recently receiving a large shipment of trucks and ammunition. Kobler said:
“There is the Libyan National Army of General Haftar, but this does not cover the whole country. One needs to find a process where everybody – east and west – feels reflected in a joined army structure. This is still missing. And this is one of the most important things the Presidency Council and the new government has to take up.”On the issue of Article 8 Kobler took the position that the LPA was approved and is that way forward. In other words it is part and parcel of the agreement. He has said many times the LPA cannot be amended.