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Op-Ed: New articles criticize UN-sponsored Libya Political Agreement

The resulting agreement and the associated Government of National Accord(GNA) have been endorsed by the UN Security Council, and also a large group of foreign ministers meeting in Rome. I have written numerous articles critical of the whole process and the result as well. Back on December 12, I wrote an article predicting the UN would in effect force the LPA on Libya in preparation for and to legitimize foreign military intervention in Libya against the Islamic State. Recent announcements of plans for military intervention by the UK and Italy confirm this viewpoint. I also argued there was in effect no LPA because neither of the two rival governments, the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) located in the east in Tobruk, nor the rival General National Congress(GNC) located in the west in Tripoli supported the LPA or approved it. The original plan was to forge an agreement between the two rival parliaments to be approved by them. This never happened. Instead the UN did an end run around the two parliaments and had members from each of the two governments sign the LPA.

A recent article in the Libya Herald by a Libyan affairs commentator from Malta, Richard Galustian, makes a number of quite caustic criticisms of the UN process. He begins by noting the UN broke its own rule book in that it had been maintaining all along that both rival governments should sign on to the deal. This is not strictly true in that at one stage when the GNC was not taking part in the process, Bernardino Leon was continuing with the dialogue and had representatives from the HoR initial a draft even though the GNC had boycotted the meeting and did not agree to the draft. No doubt members of the UN team convinced him to try and get the GNC involved again.

Galustian notes that while the world was watching for a foreign intervention of a military kind in Libya, the UN made one of a political kind. The UN engineered a foreign intervention using a political weapon, the formation of the Government of National accord that is part of the LPA: ​On 17 December, the United Nations announced that, despite both Libya’s warring parliaments disagreeing, it was going ahead and forming a new united government. By forming a third government that risks being seen as a puppet, the UN is taking a gigantic risk that may blow back in its face. First of all, the UN has no right to dictate Libya’s government – the mandate of its special envoy runs only to mediation, not government-forming
Of course, the UN apologists will reply that it was the 40 brave and courageous Libyans from the two rival bodies who signed the agreement and created the GNA by signing the agreement not the UN which was just a facilitator. However, none of those members had the authority to sign as both parliamentary heads have pointed out. As Galustian mentioned earlier, the UN broke its own rule book. This is little mentioned or even noticed by most in the mainstream press. Leon often noted that both parliaments must sign the LPA and tried for months to get them to do so as did Kobler after November 17th when he took over.

Because of the security situation and the advances of the Islamic State, and no doubt the refugee problem as well , many countries wanted a unity government to request military assistance to battle IS. According to Galustian, John Kerry US Secretary of State demanded at the Rome conference on 13 December that the diplomats form the GNA any way they could. At that point though, the LPA was already signed to it was just a question of supporting it and then setting up mechanisms to have it become a reality. Galustian claims; With both Tripoli and Tobruk adamant they would not agree to foreign intervention, the UN’s solution has been to create a third administration, the GNA, which will agree to foreign intervention.

Galustian sums up the situation which is in line with my own views on the signing of the LPA: In fact the GNA is approved only by Libya Dialogue, whose members were tasked not with agreeing it, but negotiating it and reporting back to their parliaments. Until the Rome conference, these people had no authority to actually sign the plan. That came, last minute, from the UN changing the rules. Actually, it was at the original Tunis signing that the rules were changed. The consequent UN Security Council meeting and then the Rome conference were meant to legitimize the signing. Galustian notes as well, that the GNA will no doubt receive the $100 billion in Libya assets that have been frozen since the fall of Gadaffi.

Galustian thinks that UK and Italian troops will establish a sort of Green Zone such as the US had in Iraq within Tripoli. Apparently, the UN is trying to negotiate security arrangements with the GNC and its main militia Libya Dawn and with other Tripoli and Misrata militia to enable the GNA to function in Tripoli. The UN has given notice that with the formation of the GNA it will stop all contact with the existing GNC and HoR governments.

Neither of the two rival governments have indicated they are prepared to dissolve. For the GNA term to even begin there must be a meeting of the HoR ,which is the legislative body of the GNA, to give a vote of confidence to the GNA government. There is not a word about this requirement from the UN or any mention of when this meeting will take place. Perhaps the UN intends to change the terms of the LPA to avoid this requirement. The world main stream press will never notice because they probably have not read the LPA. It can be accessed here, at least the last draft the UN bothered to reveal to the public.

Galustian wrote another critical article that can be found at the Times of Oman. The opinion piece is titled ” Frankenstein’s monster option for Libyan peace.” In this article, he refers to the GNA as NUG the Natilonal Unity Government. He repeats his argument that the events made the international community anxious to have a NUG in Libya to authorize military intervention.

He notes that the Central Bank of Libya(CBL) and Libyan National Oil Company(NOC) should soon function openly with the new NUG. Money from these sources together with the$100 billion in frozen assets that will be released will give the NUG a huge fund to buy off militias, factions, and tribes. Galustian gives his prediction of the sort of establishment that NUG will set up in Tripoli: Dr Frankenstein—read here the UN and the West—are setting the stage for a military intervention to support their creation. Their base of operations in Libya may very well be the securely created salubrious residential city (adjacent to a UN Military Residential Compound) to instal and protect this new Seraj government. That residential complex is big enough to accommodate members of the new government, soldiers and embassies as deemed necessary. It is the ultimate Iraqi-type styled ‘Green Zone’ which sits next to the militarized UN facility as described. The real problem may be the reaction of the GNC the HoR and their military forces to the NUG. Galustian thinks that General Haftar head of the HoR armed forces could very well go along with the NUG. He fails to mention that the NUG requires senior members of the government to fill the role of the commander in chief of the Libyan Army. Haftar would never allow that. Perhaps the rules on the matter are being changed as well. No one even asks about this issue. Haftar has been strangely quiet even after meeting with Kobler. In spite of his critique Galustian still concludes that the NUG is the best chance for peace that Libya has.

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