Op-Ed: Russia to hold meeting to try to solve Libyan political deadlock

Posted Oct 4, 2016 by Ken Hanly
An envoy from the Russian foreign ministry arrived in Tripoli bringing a new plan to solve the country's political deadock, local media report.
Migrants wait to be rescued as they drift in the Mediterranean Sea some 20 nautical miles north off ...
Migrants wait to be rescued as they drift in the Mediterranean Sea some 20 nautical miles north off the coast of Libya
Aris Messinis, AFP
A release from the media office of the High Council of State announced that the Russian envoy had informed the President of the Council, Abdul-Rahman Swehli. that Russian authorities intended to host a meeting to solve the Libyan political crisis. The meeting would be supervised by Vladimir Putin and the Russian ministries of defense and foreign affairs. The release said that the proposed meeting would aim to enlarge the circle of those who are part of the Libyan political dialogue and end the political deadlock.
Russia has been in the news of late as a possible source of weapons for Haftar. Haftar was said to have asked Russia for weapons. However, this has been denied by other sources. The media office also quotes the Russian envoy as denying the reports: "The envoy confirmed that his country will not provide weapons to any Libyan party in implementation to the UNSC resolutions." The envoy also said the same thing to Musa Al-Koni of the Presidency Council (PC) of the Government of National Accord (GNA). There is a UN ban on weapons exports to Libya.
The Libya Oberserver said that no details of the initiative have yet been provided but said that there was speculation that Russia wanted Haftar to remain in his post as commander of the armed forces in any GNA that he would join. The present Libyan political agreemet (LPA) has the PC itself serve the role of commander in chief. Many members of the PC and even more in the State Council would be vehemently opposed to Haftar having the role of commander in chief or any significant role in the GNA armed forces. It will be interesting to see more details about the plan of the meeting and who will be invited.
The UN special envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, has tried his best to work out some role for Haftar to play without success. Haftar criticized his attempts as meddling in Libyan affiars. The head of the PC, PM Faiez Serraj also has tried in vain to work out a deal. Just yesterday, a high level meeting of representatives from many countries in Paris was not able to reach any solutions. Russia had not been invited to the meeting. It is unclear why Russia thinks it can be successful when so many other attempts have turned out to be abject failures. Trying to keep Haftar on as commander in chief would probably result in internal strife that would destroy the GNA. Perhaps that is the idea!
Haftar has shown little interest so far in plans to accommodate him and have him join the GNA. He has been active extending his power in the east by seizing four ports in the Oil Crescent and replacing local civilian authorities by military officials. He considers most militias associated with the GNA to be his enemies and to be defeated by his Operation Dignity eventually.
A tweet perhaps related to the upcoming meeting says:" #Egypt & #Russia trying to reach out to influential leaders within #Misrata. Efforts to bring Misrata & East together. No easy task #Libya "