Wednesday, March 1, 2017

UN-brokered Libyan unity government asks training aid from NATO

NATO claims to have received a new detailed request from the UN-brokered Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) to train and develop its military.

The GNA faces a threat from an attempted coup led by Khalifa al-Ghwell Prime Minister of the former Salvation Government that had more or less disintegrated after the GNA moved to Tripoli. Members of the former General National Congress associated with the Salvation Government had met, accepted the Libyan Political Agreement and dissolved the GNC and then met as the State High Council of the GNA. Many of the Libyan Presidential Guard that were supposed to protect the GNA defected to join al-Ghwell. The GNA depends upon militia for protection. The militia have their own agendas and often have turf and other battles among themselves. Some seem little more than criminal gangs out to fleece the public and engaging in kidnappings for ransom.
PM Fayez Serraj had made a request last year in May for help from NATO but it was seen as too broad. Security arrangements have been one among many failures of the GNA government. The GNA has had plans for unified Libyan security forces since coming to Tripoli in March. It appears to have made little or no progress. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference: "We have said for some time that we are ready to help Libya, but any assistance has to be based on a request from the Libyan government. This is the request we received yesterday. Training local forces is one of the best weapons in the fight against terrorism and building stability." The GNA request asks NATO to develop a defense ministry with a chief of defense and intelligence gathering capacities. Stoltenberg stressed the importance of having a ministry of defence, a commander and chief of staff and claimed that such a framework was necessary to develop the armed forces and create stability. Stoltenberg said that NATO could work within or outside Libya. The EU already is training the Libyan coastguard in Italy and in international waters off the Libyan coast. There is no discussion of how eastern commander Khalifa Haftar would fit into this plan. At the present it would seem he has no place at all.
Serraj invited NATO forces to play a stronger role in preventing smuggling but military assistance on the ground in Libya was off the ground. Apparently this does not include training, unless Serraj insists the training take place outside of Libya. NATO has already been involved in counter-terror and anti-smuggling operations and is also involved with the EU in rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean. NATO was created in 1949 for collective security. Its present headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium. There are 28 member states.
There may be negative reaction to NATO involvement in establishing an armed force for the GNA. Many Libyans already see the GNA as a foreign imposition. An attempt by NATO to create an effective army for the GNA will be seen by Field Marshall Haftar as a threat to his own power.

No comments: