Martin Kobler is the new head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, replacing UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon, who left recently under a cloud of conflict of interest allegations. As the new head, Martin Kobler also has a new title, The Special Representative of the Secretary-General(SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). In the latest release from the UN website Kobler carries on the same process as his predecessor of trying to force a vote on the latest version of the LPA. Leon was not successful and so far Kobler has not been successful either. In explanations for the lack of success the blame is always placed upon so-called “hardliners” in each camp with claims that majorities on each side support the LPA and the associated Government of National Accord. The HoR’s reason for not voting or signing on to the present LPA the reason should be crystal clear. The commander of the Libyan National Army(LN A) will not let the HoR vote on the issue. If there is a vote of approval it will not be for the existing LPA since that would give the role of commander in chief of the LNA to senior members of the GNA, not Haftar.
Haftar has what Mattia Toaldo calls a Plan B in an article published on October 7:
Haftar’s plan would either scuttle or stall the talks while continuing the de facto partition of the country and granting him stronger control in the internationally recognised government in Tobruk. This is what in fact has been happening for months now. The HoR meets but is unable to vote and then meetings keep getting postponed. Just a few days ago the HoR met to debate and vote on the LPA. There was a fight and the meeting was suspended. No date has been announced for the meeting to resume. No vote was taken. Yet Martin Kobler, the SRSG for the UNSMIL, is cheered by the fact that 92 members of the HoR released a statement before the meeting approving in principle the LPA and the GNA:
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Martin Kobler, welcomes the recent declaration by 92 members of the House of Representatives endorsing in principle the Libyan Political Agreement and the proposed Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord.
Haftar’s plan is working well. There remains no vote in the HoR. Even if there were a vote and a majority approved the position in the statement by the 92 members alluded to by Kobler, this does not support at all the existing LPA. The statement specifically says Haftar must remain as commander in chief of the LNA and that some of the names in the GNA presented by Kobler are not acceptable. It is difficult to fathom why Kobler would think that passing this would represent any sort of progress since both the GNC and many others will reject any agreement that keeps Haftar as head of the LNA.
Haftar has continually snubbed the UN multiple times without punishment. This has been so obvious that at one point the EU named him as being subject of sanctions. He laughed this off as ridiculous. He then gained support from Egypt, the UAE and the Arab League. He continues to receive military equipment from the UAE and Egypt as reported in Janes, some of which probably violates the UN ban on weapons shipments to Libya.
Haftar has even said he pledges loyalty to the HoR only if they do not sign on to the LPA. The HoR’s survival depends upon not doing anything Haftar strongly opposes, and that includes being deprived of his position and power. He has made it clear numerous times that his legitimacy comes only from his appointment by the HoR, over which he has de facto veto power. Haftar has prevented the HoR prime minister, Abdullah al-Thinni, from leaving Libya twice and later met with him to gain assurances that he would vet the names of key cabinet ministers with him prior to appointing them, as noted by Taldo in his article:
Last weekend, the two met at Haftar’s headquarters in the eastern city of al-Marj. The agreement they reached establishes Haftar’s “oversight” over Thinni’s cabinet. From now on, the names of the minister of defence and of the minister of the interior will have to be “agreed” by the two. A peculiar agreement if one thinks that theoretically Libya is due to have a national unity government in less than two weeks.
So far Haftar is winning. He continues his Operation Dignity that started the civil war back in May of 2014:
Taldo notes Haftar started the whole conflict back in 2014. Haftar first launched a failed coup in February and then his Operation Dignity, designed to rid Libya of Islamists in May of the same year. Ironically as part of Operation Dignity, the Libyan parliament buildings were burned down while at the time Abdullah al-Thinni was prime minister. He denounced Haftar’s action. Now as prime minister of the HoR he appointed Haftar commander of the HoR armed forces, the Libyan National Army. Kobler never mentions the name Haftar, nor does he explain how he thinks he can form a unity government while Haftar opposes his plans and is defeating him at every turn.