There was some doubt that the Tobruk government would even attend the talks when they were renewed last Friday. No doubt there was great pressure for the HoR representatives to return. They did so after passing proposed amendments to the draft which would deprive the General National Congress government in Tripoli of any real power. When the Tripoli delegates arrived to renew the dialogue they found that they were discussing not the original fourth draft but one amended in a number of ways, but all favorable to the Tobruk government and weakening the power of the GNC group, The full text of the new “fifth” draft can be found at the Libya Herald but can be accessed only if you subscribe. Amendments proposed by Tripoli were ignored in the new draft. Apparently no reporters have bothered to look at the document and report on it,. The document does not appear on the UN site. All changes were put into the document without the consultation or agreement of the Tripoli group. There was no agreement after the talks last weekend. The parties returned to Libya to talk to their governments.
Amending the draft without consultation was not the only slap in the face to the Tripoli government. The special envoy to Libya who arranges the talks, Bernardino Leon, had discussions with the Misrata militia leaders without ever consulting or receiving approval from the senior officials of the Tripoli forces. Leon insists he is following a parallel series of discussions with the military of each side. On the Tobruk side, the commander of the Libyan forces Khalifa Haftar has made it clear he will neither negotiate with nor sign a ceasefire with Libya Dawn the main Tripoli military force.This apparently is not regarded as an interference with or blocking of the peace process that might warrant his being sanctioned. Leon said he would meet with representatives of the Tobruk military in Cairo. No names are mentioned. The name Khalifa Haftar is seldom mentioned in many reports on Libya lately.
News headlines about the talks all emphasize that the talks are not convening because the Tripoli government did not come. This was clear earlier as I reported in an article yesterday. The Tripoli news sources had announced yesterday they were not coming. News agencies might not have noticed but the bosses behind the UN did. Here is just a sample of what the Libya Observer claims as to what happened, according to GNC Speaker Nuri Abu Sahmain as he addressed protesters opposed to the draft plan:
He told the protesters that Peter Millett had contacted one of HoR boycotters and threatened him to accept the draft. “The British ambassador, who is not accredited to us, asked the HoR boycotter to urge other boycotters to go to the GNC today and press it to ratify the draft. He threatened him that the murder of 37 tourists in Tunisia would be placed on Libya because the attacker trained in Libya.” He added that Millet has also threatened to include the unnamed HoR boycotter in the UN sanctions list if he didn’t encourage the GNC to sign the draft. An HoR boycotter is a person elected to the HoR but who boycotted meetings. Sahmain claimed that the French Ambassador Antoine Sivan met the GNC dialogue team and threatened the Second Deputy Speaker with a negative outcome if the GNC did not sign the draft, According to Sahmain, Sivan said;
“If you didn’t sign the draft, a civil war would erupt in your country, assets of the Central Bank of Libya would be frozen, plan B would be implemented to seize oil ports and fields and airports.” There is already a civil war in Libya. Who exactly would seize oil ports and assets of the Central Bank? I presume it would be the internationally recognized government using the forces of commander CIA-linked General Khalifa Haftar and with international blessing and support. Amazing that such disturbing reports are entirely missing from articles on the talks by at least half a dozen prominent news agencies including Reuters, and AFP. Are they really unaware of what is being said by the GNC, or do they know but not think it is worth reporting? The Libya Observer is a pro-Tripoli news site but surely it is worth finding out and reporting on what the other side believes to be the case.
A Reuters summary of the new draft is accurate enough and points out that the 120 member State Council is now a consultative body. In the original fourth draft,the State Council with 90 of the 120 members being from the GNC would have been able to block legislation of the HoR, the only legislative body, if a majority of the Council opposed it. This gave the GNC group some actual power. No doubt that is why it suddenly disappeared when the groups convened last Friday to discuss the draft and found a fifth draft in place that took away this power.
As often happens, the UN security council becomes involved with Libya, in this instance pushing parties to sign the fourth draft, as amended to make the GNC impotent, on pain of facing sanctions:
The United Nations Security Council has urged acceptance of the latest peace accord and warned that it was still prepared to sanction those who blocked political transition.The Security Council said it was ready to act against “those who threaten Libya’s peace, stability and security or that undermine the successful completion of its political transition”. It gave unqualified backing to UNSMIL chief Bernardino Leon and Draft Five of the Peace Accord. It welcomed last week’s negotiations in Morocco and urged rapid agreement and signing of the deal.
Surely talking with militia in Misrata without approval of Tripoli military authorities threatens the peace process as does making amendments to the fourth draft without consulting with or getting the approval of the Tripoli negotiators. Maybe the UN should sanction Leon. Earlier, the Tobruk government pulled out of negotiations and did not return until they had a draft that they knew the Tripoli government could not accept. The Tobruk government was not threatened with sanctions for pulling out. Most of their demands were met. Now we are back at the same play but this time it seems there is a concerted plan as I described a few days ago:
Leon may have introduced amendments that he knows Tripoli disapproves as a means of forcing the Tripoli government to reject the agreement and then Tripoli can be blamed for the failure of the talks. This could make Tobruk look to be for peace but now the talks having failed the Haftar military solution Operation Dignity will be justified. Unlike the UN Haftar has always maintained that there is a military solution to the crisis and that a political agreement is highly unlikely.We should know what will happen by the end of this week and perhaps by then there will be some news on the parallel talks with military forces of the two sides.
There is no news of any meeting of Leon with the Libya National Army representatives in Cairo. There is news that Libya Dawn has rejected the present draft. There appears no hope of a ceasefire or any agreement between the two military forces. This may not matter since the plan may be for the international community to rally behind Khalifa Haftar and the Tobruk government with the Tripoli government sanctioned and Libya Dawn becoming an enemy of peace and a proper target for Haftar’s Operation Dignity.