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article imageOp-Ed: UN envoy to Libya Martin Kobler to be replaced by Palestinian

By Ken Hanly     Feb 9, 2017 in World
The new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres plans to appoint former prime minister of the Palestinian authority, Salam Fayyad, as UN envoy to Libya. Diplomats say he wil take on the task of brokering talks to change the Libya Political Agreement (LPA).
Martin Kobler has been Special Representative of the Secretary-General(SRSG) in Libya since November of 2015, taking over from Bernardino Leon. Kobler has not been successful in getting the eastern-based House of Representatives(HoR) to vote confidence in the UN-brokered Govenment of National Accord (GNA) as is requred by the LPA. He has also not been able to find a place in any GNA government acceptable to the commander of HoR forces, the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. Haftar wants to remain as commander of any unified armed forces under the GNA but at present, the LPA gives the Presidency Council this role.
Kobler told the Security Council Wednesday that talks on "possible amendments" to the political agreement were making progress. He makes no mention of the recent meetings of the Libya Dialogue group that he convened in Tunisia. The group meeting without representatives of the HoR decided on a number of amendments to the LPA as reported in a DJ article.. There is no further word on what happened after that meeting on January 24th. It is not clear that the Dialogue members had the legal power to amend the LPA especially without the HoR representatives. It is not at all clear that the LPA can be changed so as to satisfy Haftar without alienating numerous members of the present GNA government. The GNA was rejected by the HoR back on August 22nd. There seems to have been little or no progess since then. It remains to be seen how a new UN envoy will be able to do any better than Kobler.
While the UN-brokered GNA government headed by Fayez Serraj is backed by many western countries, the eastern Al-Thinni government of the HoR with commander Haftar has the support of the UAE and Egypt. Recently it has been gaining support from Russia as well, although Russia has kept open relations with the GNA. Guterres has given the UN Security Council two days to present objections to Fayyad's appointment. Diplomats say they do not expect their to be opposiition to chosing Fayyad.
Fayyad was Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority(PA) from March 2007 to May 2012. He was Finance Minister for several years before that. He is popular in the west for among other things reforming the PA financial system. Fayyad has a PH D in Economics from the University of Texas. He worked at the World Bank in Washington from 1987-95 and from 1996 to 2001 at the International Monetary Fund. This assures that Fayyad has the "proper" attitudes on economic matters.
Fayyad's security strategy is an example of how Fayyad's poliicies pleased Israel and and the US among others: In October 2010, The New York Review of Books published an article by Nathan Thrall on Fayyad’s security strategy. At the center are “special battalions” of the National Security Forces (NSF), referred to by Hamas as “the Dayton forces”. The officer in charge of the vetting, training, equipping, and strategic planning of these special battalions was Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, the United States security coordinator (USSC) for Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Security cooperation between Israel and Palestine reached unprecedented levels in the West Bank. Together they have largely disbanded Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, attacked Islamic Jihad groups, and all but eliminated Hamas’s social institutions, financial arrangements, and military activities in the West Bank.[26] In 2010 Fayyad went against the official position in expressing scepticism about a vote on statehood in the UN. The US and Israel also opposed the move.
There are varying opinions on Twitter about Fayyad's appointment but many are negative One negative tweet claims: " By appointing Fayyad, the #UN chief is practically handing over #Libya to the Arabian Gulf brothel house #UAE & its poodles." The UAE is a supporter of Haftar and the HoR government. Another tweet is also negative: "Salam fayad More #corruption The more close agent to #Haftar & UAE camp
The Libya Herald also covers the appointment of Fayyad noting that there has so far been no official confirmation. However, Gutteres sent a letter to the UN Security Council re his appointment. What the Herald called "reliable sources" said that the new appointment will not take place immediately but Kobler will remain in place for a short time. This is a bit surprising. It is unlikely that there will be any major breakthrough in the political crisis in Libya when Kobler is still to remain for a short while. By the time Fayyyad takes over, a full scale civil war may be imminent. There are already clashes in Tripoli and a new force the Libya National Guard has been formed. While the LIbya Observer claims it is not loyal to former Salvation Government led by Khalifa Ghwell the former prime minister, the Libya Herald claims exactly the opposite. More for Fayyad to sort out. Perhaps the Libya Observer is right that being the UN envoy to Libya is used by the UN as a testing groung for diplomats.
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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