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article imageOp-Ed: Libya peace talks reports leave out everything significant

By Ken Hanly     Jul 1, 2015 in Politics
Skhirat - The US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain all are calling for a UN-sponsored plan to be endorsed by the rival governments. Bernardino Leon, the UN special envoy to Libya, hopes the parties will agree to his plan later this week.
A joint statement by the six countries said:“We urge all Libyan parties to sign in the coming days the political agreement presented by the U.N.. We consider this document a thoughtful, well-balanced basis for agreement that meets the urgent expectations of Libyan people and secures the unity of Libya.” We are not informed of any of the specifics of the deal. The only place I have found the full text is at the Libya Herald and it is available only by subscription. It does have a basic description of the changes though:The latest draft given yesterday by Bernardino Leon to delegates to the UN-brokered Dialogue process in Skhirat, Morroco, significantly swings power back to the House of Representatives (HoR) and away from the demands of the General National Congress (GNC) as proposed in Draft 4 .
The GNC delegation had already complained to the United Nations Support Mission in Libya(UNSMIL) that the 4th draft had three key amendments that were not agreed to by the GNC and about which they were not consulted. Leon also had met with Misrata militia leaders without consulting with the general staff of the Tripoli forces. Leon appears to be intent on ensuring that Tripoli will reject the new draft as amended.There is no reporting in any media that I could find as to what was the result of discussions within the Tobruk government. However, Libya Herald, a usually pro-Tobruk news source, has an op-ed that suggests that the agreement could go through without the GNC signing on at all: The draft agreement that has been hammered out over the months should go through regardless of whether the remnant GNC signs or rejects it, especially since the GNC has no legitimacy save its forceful presence on the ground.The signature of the remnant GNC would enhance the agreement and give confidence that it can work. However, with two governmental institutions – the existing HoR and the Accord Government to be formed in line with the agreement – international support and security measures laid out in the agreement and its annexes, the agreement will stand. In other words there can be an agreement on a unity government, or Government of National Accord, as it is now rebranded, without the two rival governments agreeing just the Tobruk government. What sort of farce of a dialogue would this be? I suggested in an earlier article what the plan might be. I suggested that Leon might have introduced into his fourth draft amendments he knows that the GNC cannot accept forcing them to reject the agreement: This could make Tobruk look to be for peace but now the talks having failed the Haftar military solution Operation Dignity will be justified. Unlike the UN Haftar has always maintained that there is a military solution to the crisis and that a political agreement is highly unlikely.We should know what will happen by the end of this week and perhaps by then there will be some news on the parallel talks with military forces of the two sides.
There is zero news that I could find as to what is going on in the parallel military talks for a cease fire, an agreement absolutely crucial to the success of any political agreement. Leon reportedly was to meet with representatives of the Libyan National Army (Tobruk) in Cairo. No names were given and Khalifa Haftar's name is never mentioned these days it would seem. He has always taken the position that he will not negotiate with Libya Dawn the militia associated with the Tripoli government. He calls them terrorists and launched a military Operation Dignity against them in May of 2014 and it is still ongoing. Haftar is betting on a military solution. Yet the impotent rhetoric of the UNSMIL and the UN Security Council continues endlessly: The members of the Security Council reiterated that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Libya and urged the participants to agree on a Government of National Accord and to sign the proposal presented by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) in the coming days. The members of the Security Council recalled resolutions 2174 (2014), 2213 (2015) and 2214 (2015) and noted that the Sanctions Committee is prepared to sanction those who threaten Libya’s peace, stability and security or that undermine the successful completion of its political transition.
Apparently refusing to negotiate with the forces of the rival government, calling for an offensive against Tripoli as peace talks were to begin, bombing an airport just as Tripoli representatives were to take off, among other capers, do not qualify Haftar to be sanctioned.
While I could find no reports as to what the Tobruk government had decided about the Leon plan, I found one about the reactions of those on the GNC(Tripoli) side in the Libya Observer, a pro-Tripoli news site that operates through Facebook. There were protests outside the GNC today opposing the draft. The GNC is suspending participation in the next round scheduled for tomorrow in order to have more consultations on the draft. The Gathering of Revolution Squares(GRS) denounced the draft urging the GNC to reject it. The GRS is an NGO group in Tripoli. Abdul-Rahman Al-Swahili who is an elected member of the Tobruk parliament but has boycotted any meetings said that the draft was a blow to the aspirations of Libyans. It appears that the new draft will likely be rejected by the GNC. We will see tomorrow whether the GNC group even shows up or if they do reject the plan.
The religious organization Dar Al-Lifta chaired by Sheikh Sadek Al-Ghariani ruled that the UN-brokered dialogue was legal under Sharia law but rejected the UN draft plan. Al-Ghariani said that it was not lawful for Muslims to sign an agreement that ignored the Libyan Supreme Court ruling last November that in the view of the Tripoli government de-legitimised the HoR or Tobruk government. The ruling said the elections for the HoR were unconstitutional. Al-Ghariani is a controversial figure who supports the Tripoli militia Libya Dawn and opposes Haftar and his Operation Dignity.He was long an opponent of Gadaffi.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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