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article imageOp-Ed: UN should sanction IMF head and Libyan Prime Minister

By Ken Hanly     Jul 25, 2015 in Politics
Tripoli - The UN has the power to sanction any group that interferes with or obstructs the peace process in Libya. The EU has already listed five individuals it intends to sanction.
The UN had previously tried to impose sanctions on two Libyans, one from each main party in the conflict but the sanctions failed to pass through the Security Council. The EU has recently named five people to be subject of sanctions, three from the Tripoli government side, and two from the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) government in Tobruk. The Tripoli government has not even signed the UN plan, yet it is still called a peace agreement. In the bizarre world of international relations one can have a political settlement of a conflict with just one side signing on. As of now, the agreement is just initialled since most of the significant parts still need to be completed. Negotiators for the HoR Tobruk government of prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni have approved the agreement yet the head of his air force and CIA-linked General Khalifa Haftar commander-in-chief of his armed forces have rejected the document: Two military leaders in the east of Libya, who say their forces will not respect any peace accord, also face sanctions. They are General Khalifa Haftar, commander in chief of the eastern forces and air force head Fakir Jarroushi. Given that the two commanders are acting in a way that directly challenges government policy, one would think that the two military commanders would be immediately fired. That is not likely. Al-Thinni does not want to have another parliament burned down while he is prime minister. He was prime minister in the GNC government when Haftar burned down the Tripoli parliament buildings as part of Operation Dignity. A warrant was issued for Haftar's arrest but of course it was never carried out. A video of the event is appended. Now far from being a fugitive fleeing after a failed coup attempt, Haftar heads the armed forces of a government led by the same Abdullah alThinni.
The UN has warned the two rival governments in Tripoli and Tobruk against doing anything that would interfere with the operation of the Libyan National Bank and the National Oil Company(NOC). Both institutions provide what little unity that is left in Libya. The Central Bank distributes government salaries and subsidies to both governments and the Oil Company also remains neutral depositing revenues in the National Bank. As the UN Support Mission in Libya(UNSMIL) said: In this regard, UNSMIL calls on the parties to safeguard the national institutions by refraining from taking any steps that could compromise the neutrality of these institutions that are crucial for Libya’s economic survival. The al-Thinni government did exactly the opposite of what the UN demanded.They set about attempting to take over the Central Bank by firing the existing head and then created their own bank in the east as a rival to the neutral bank in Tripoli. They also set up a rival oil company to the NOC in the east of the country:What the internationally-recognized al-Thinni government did was to try to bypass both institutions:The Al-Thinni government recently fired the head of the Central Bank of Libya that has remained neutral between the two governments. The headquarters of the bank is in Tripoli and it carried on as before. Even more serious is the setting up of a new oil company in the east. The existing National Oil Company has been neutral as well collecting receipts from oil exports from areas controlled by both governments and depositing the money in the Central Bank. Now the Tobruk government has set up a National Oil Company in the east. It is intending to open bank accounts and offices in other countries bypassing the National Oil Company.
There is no sign of any action by the UN to sanction Al-Thinni. Indeed, the UN has provided the al-Thinni government a draft peace plan that gives sole legislative powers to the HoR, the Tobruk parliament. The GNC government has no veto over legislation through a Council in which it had a majority in a previous draft. That power was removed. A previous fourth draft was approved by the GNC but not by the Tobruk government. Amendments were made in favour of the Tobruk government without consultation or the approval of the Tobruk government. The UN created a draft it must have known the Tripoli government could not sign without caving in completely to Tobruk demands. There is no peace agreement there is agreement to isolate the Tripoli government and punish it, if it does not sign on. Instead of the Al-Thinni government being sanctioned for its actions it is being supported and encouraged. Just recently the IMF has added to the complete contradiction of everything the peace process is supposed to achieve.
Today the IMF said that it recognizes the central bank governor named by Libya's internationally-recognized government as its sole contact and has ended any connection with the bank head in Tripoli. This will make it even more difficult to foster cooperation between the two rival administrations a report claims. Economic cooperation with the Tripoli regime and the Tobruk regime will now be virtually impossible. It will be interesting to see if there is now a swing to selling oil through the Tobruk created oil company. The aim of the move is not to foster cooperation between rival administrations it is meant to isolate the Tripoli regime and exert even more pressure to sign a peace agreement that gives it almost no power while empowering the HoR. It all makes sense if you assume the powers that count want the Tobruk government to win out in the power struggle while Tripoli will be forced to give up on its demands.
An IMF spokesperson said that the decision to recognize the Tobruk-appointed bank governor was based upon a request by the al-Thinni government and said: "The international community ... recognizes the HoR as the only legitimate authority in Libya," she said by email. In line with established Fund procedures, Mr al-Hibri was recognized as Libya's governor for the Fund." Not a word about the warning of the UN about doing anything that would detract from the neutrality of the Central Bank. Surely Christine Lagarde , the IMF head, should know that she is violating the UN demand through helping the Tobruk government undermine the existing neutral Central Bank. Will the EU or the UN now recommend that Al-Thinni and Christine Lagarde be subject to sanctions?
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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