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Op-Ed: CIA-linked Haftar will probably sabotage any Libyan peace deal

Leon said that his plan “gives the Tripoli government to have very important participation”. Actually, the Tripoli government would give up any claim to legitimacy while recognizing that of the Tobruk government. Up to now the Tripoli government has claimed legitimacy and that view was supported by the Libyan Supreme Court. On November 6th last year, the Supreme Court ruled that June elections last year were unconstitutional and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives(HoR) should be dissolved. If the Tripoli government actually agrees to the UN proposal it would represent a huge concession. It is not clear how the main militia associated with the Tripoli government, Libya Dawn, would fit into this scenario.
Leon claimed: “My impression is that the majority of people from both sides view this as positive.” As often seems to be the case, Leon’s optimism appears to have little relation to realty. Representatives of the Tobruk government rejected the proposal. Ahmed Wahidi a member of the HoR said: “We provided the UN representative our vision of the new government and its roles, and asked him to agree on this vision among the different parties, and he did not do that. This road map has been issued not by the negotiators chosen by the parliament . . . nor by the parliament itself. It was made by the UN.”
Leon ignores the fact that the Tobruk government and the commander of its armed forces bombed the Tripoli airport twice just before talks began. The last time the bombing delayed the departure of the Tripoli representatives causing the postponement of the talks for a day. Shortly before the last round of talks Haftar started an offensive south of Libya meant to take back the capital from the Tripoli government. Leon seems in a state of denial about Haftar’s obvious contempt for the whole dialogue process: “Nowhere was this clearer than on Friday 20 March, when a military offensive was declared on the same day in which talks were due to resume in Morocco. The eastern-based, internationally recognised government of Abdullah al-Thinni and its “top military commander” Khalifa Haftar stated that the goal of the offensive was to recapture Tripoli.”
Haftar dismissed the peace dialogue as talks with terrorists. He takes not just radical groups such as the Islamic State to be his enemies but all his opponents. Haftar will no doubt refuse any power sharing agreement that has any representation from Islamist groups but without such representation the Tripoli government will not be able to convince its own government to accept the unity government.
Haftar has the backing of the UAE and Egypt in his offensive against Islamists. While the US the UK and others may emit bleats of dissent from time to time and refuse to support lifting the arms embargo imposed on Libya until there is a unity government, this is unlikely to deter Haftar. Haftar has bombed his own people including civilian airports with impunity a number of times. If Gadaffi had done this there would cries for foreign intervention to protect the people. Yet, in spite of the Libyan Supreme Court claiming that the Tobruk government is unconstitutional and even though the commander of the Tobruk government had a warrant out for his arrest at one time for attempting a coup, the Tobruk government is still recognized internationally. To add to the irony the present prime minister of the Tobruk government was interim prime minister in the government that Haftar tried to overthrow but now that same al-Thinni has made Haftar commander of his forces.
To radical Islamists such as the Islamic State, it is crystal clear that there is no hope for dialogue and a peaceful solution. They want all Islamists to join them against both Haftar’s forces and Libya Dawn which refuses to accept their radical ideology. While forces from Libya Dawn are fighting to regain control of the city of Sirte from the Islamic State, Haftar is busy attacking Libya Dawn rather than the Islamic State. Libya Dawn may very well decide its forces in Sirte need to be redeployed to defend Tripoli. The Islamic State will no doubt take advantage of this situation.

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