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article imageOp-Ed: CIA-linked Haftar may remain as commander of Libyan National Army

By Ken Hanly     Dec 22, 2015 in World
Tripoli - On December 17th in Tunis, the UN-sponsored Libya Political Agreement(LPA) was signed by some members of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) based in Tobruk and the rival General National Congress(GNC) based in Tripoli.
Neither of the two parliaments approved of or even voted on the LPA, nor did those who signed from the two bodies have any authorization from either body to do so. The LPA has subsequently been endorsed by the UN Security Council and a large ministerial meeting in Rome. Most press coverage has praised the LPA but also expressed reservations about whether the attempt to establish the new Government of National Accord(GNA) associated with the agreement will be successful. Lately there have been more critical articles. Surprisingly the formerly pro-HoR Libya Herald and the pro-GNC Llibya Observer both published the same critical article by Richard Galustian. Two new critical articles were just released on Libya Analysis by Jason Pack a well-known commentator on Libya. Pack says:
My consulting/advisory work has consisted of frequent meetings with the MoD, DoD, FCO, State Department, NATO and the UN, concerning the need to formulate multilateral policies towards Libya focused on mediating between Libya’s many stakeholders and building governance capacity. His recent two articles on Libya can be found here.
In this article, I will concentrate on the important issue of General Khalifa Haftar's role in the new Government of National Accord(GNA). Haftar is the commander of the Libyan National Army, the armed forces of the HoR. He has been an outspoken critic of the LPA and rejected it all along. He refuses to agree to a ceasefire with or to negotiate with the main militia of the GNC Libya Dawn or Fajr Libya. He has been carrying out a military operation called Operation Dignity since May of last year. This included burning down the parliament buildings at the beginning of Operation Dignity as show on the appended You Tube video.The operation continues but it is never talked about as Operation Dignity by the UN or the mainstream press:
Haftar and his buddy the head of the Air Force were both to be subject to sanctions by the EU but all coverage of this has disappeared: 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.
The cover of a recent US commando landing in Libya was recently blown on the Libyan Air Force Facebook page complete with photos. The commandos were forced to leave.
Pack claims that the LPA signing in Skhirat was possible only because of Kobler's meeting with Haftar a day before the signing on December 16th: Looking back, it is now clear the Skhirat deal was final made possible on Dec 17 after last minute efforts by the UN-envoy, Martin Kobler to assuage the HoR, Haftar and the Tubroq faction. He did this by obtaining the nomination of Ali Al-Gutrani (HoR Rep), for the position of Deputy PM in the GNA presidential council. Gutrani’s role will be to safeguard the interests of the Haftar.
Pack claims that Hatar gave his implicit blessing to the LPA and the GNA since it was needed to combat terrorism. However, he noted Haftar disagreed with the LPA in its current form. Pack is quite critical of what happened and concludes: This statement showed that Kobler is merely continuing the biased pro-Tobruq policies of his predecessor Bernardino Leon.
Leon took a well-paying job in the UAE back in June and emails also revealed that he was in effect accepting direction from officials there, that would strengthen the HoR and weaken the GNC. Kobler said that he would not change the names of those Leon had nominated for the GNA but if Pack is correct it would appear he broke this promise to get support from Haftar. The UN has yet to release the text of the exact document signed at Skhirat. I wonder why?
There are two very important issues that Pack does not even discuss. One is the fact that the present LPA has a section that gives senior members of the GNA the function of commander in chief of the Libyan National Army depriving Haftar of his position. He will never stand for this I should think. If the GNA is to gain the support of Haftar, he must remain as commander in chief of the Libyan National Army. The other crucial point that Pack fails to mention is that the LPA requires a vote of confidence by the HoR, which is the legislature of the GNA, before the term of the GNA begins. When what Kobler called a majority of the HoR signed a statement that supported the GNA in principle, it was with the proviso that Haftar remain as commander in chief. These are the people who supported the signing. They will not vote confidence in the GNA until Haftar is allowed to stay on as commander in chief of the Libyan National Army. However, if this happens, almost all of the GNC supporters of the agreement will refuse to work with the GNA creating even more division.
Perhaps, Kobler altered the LPA in order to do away with the requirement of a vote of confidence by the HoR. It seems unlikely that he has though, since the HoR representatives would be furious. Pack is pessimistic about any chance of success of the LPA: In fact, the GNA is likely to represent the same failings of the HoR with the same alliances with international powers, except possibly worse as the GNA appears to be signalling a phase of greater international intervention in Libyan affairs rather than a movement to an organic solution over which Libyan ownership can be exerted. At present, it is the UN and much of the international community that has ownership of this mess.
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 DigitalJournal.com
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