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article imageOp-Ed: Libya unity government PM desperate to accommodate Marshal Haftar

By Ken Hanly     Sep 29, 2016 in Politics
The PM designate of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), Faiez Serraj, claims Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) of the rival government of the House of Representatives (HoR) will be part of a new GNA government.
Serraj told France 24: “In the reconciliation process, no one is excluded” he said to France 24, “We are trying to bring together all Libyan views.” Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) also said two weeks ago that Haftar had to play a role in a the army of any new GNA. Many in the present GNA and certainly within the State Council are completely opposed to having Haftar play any role in the GNA armed forces. Serraj claims that he knows there are disagreements "but we want to build a united military institution under political leadership." Given the opposition to including Haftar within the GNA and that Haftar himself has shown no interest in being part of any armed force which he does not command or control, it is difficult to understand why Kobler and Serraj continue with their plan which appears to have little hope of success.
Haftar has made it eminently clear that he is not interested in working with Kobler, whom he refuses to meet, or with Serraj either whom he has yet to meet recently on the issue. He has complained about Kobler being meddlesome and of the GNA being dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and armed gangs. Most of the militia supporting the GNA and those from Misrata who defeated the Islamic State he regards as his enemies. He believes that Libya would be better off ruled by someone with military expertise such as Egyptian president el-Sisi. Haftar admires el-Sisi who in turn supports Haftar.
Serraj is busy trying to get supporters of Haftar to persuade him to join in a new unity government it would appear. He recently visited the UAE and met with the Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheik Al-Nahyan. Serraj extended thanks and appreciation to the UAE for its support and efforts to build Libyan's national institutions. The UAE has supported Haftar and the rival HoR government as its way of building national institutions!
Serraj also met with French president Francois Hollande where at a press conference he again reiterated that he wanted dialogue and reconciliation and would present quickly "the composition of a new government in which everyone will be represented in a balanced way." The HoR rejected the GNA in a confidence vote on August 22. A new government list was to have been presented weeks ago. Serraj claims that he has met with Haftar in the past and still has "indirect contacts" with him in order "unify the military institution and the security forces". There is no sign of any success in doing so. France was shown to have helped Haftar when several French agents were killed in a helicopter crash or downing.
In a final move to forge an agreement that will accommodate Haftar and his supporters, a meeting is planned in France that will be attended by both supporters of the GNA and of Haftar and the HoR. Attending will be representatives from Egypt, the UAE, Qatar, and Turkey. The aim is to plan how to advance unity in Libya. There is no mention of who if anyone will be present from the GNA or the HoR. Serraj noted that the decision to include Haftar in a new government was "motivated by necessity as much as choice."
Haftar increased his power considerably earlier this month when he seized four oil ports in the Oil Crescent from his rival Ibrahima Jadhran of the Petroleum Facilities Guard. It is not clear that Haftar has any interest in reconciliation or accommodation when he may be able to destroy the GNA. Given its weak performance so far more and more Libyans may turn from the GNA to Haftar as the strong man who can save them. A recent tweet claims: "Serraj invited hafter & agila s to join GNA gov , hafter refused" A|geela is head of the HoR. He is under sanction by the EU. It is not clear how the upcoming meeting in France can find a forward that will unite the two factions. The plan to include Haftar in a new GNA seems to be a non-starter in the first place since such a move would likely result in the disintegration of the GNA as so many members of the GNA would reject such a move. Even if the group does come up with such a plan it is not clear who would implement it or how the two sides could be convinced to implement it.
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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