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Op-Ed: UN approval of Libyan GNA could pave way for foreign intervention

The Guardian notes that while the UN resolution is intended to give support to the GNA, it could also pave the way for potential military intervention against the Islamic State. The GNA could request such intervention. The UN resolution was sponsored by the UK. Britain has already reported that it is ready to send 1,000 troops but the RAF could make bombing runs sooner. Perhaps there could be more bombings by mystery planes as happened over the IS-controlled city of Sirte at the end of October.The mass media did not bother to investigate whose planes they might have been. The Guardian claims no parliamentary approval would be required for the UK to send troops since they would go at the invitation of the Libyan GNA. An RT article also argues the UN resolution will facilitate the sending of foreign troops to Libya.

While the Libyan ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim al-Dabashi, told the news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat that he expected airstrikes soon, he gave no timeline. He cited the U.S., UK, France and Italy as countries preparing for strikes. Dabbashi said that UN resolution 2214 gave clear authorization for a military strike. “[It] asks all countries to fight terrorism in Libya, which represents a clear-cut authorisation only requiring of different countries to inform the government in Libya in advance, and coordinate with it.” However, the GNA needs to be approved by the HoR and will probably not take power until about the middle of January. A source in the senior Foreign Office said that there would be no contribution of combat troops and the UK was not at the current time considering air strikes.

The narrative Dabbashi gave Reuters was quite different. As of now, Dabbashi is still representing the Al-Thinni House of Representatives (HoR) internationally-recognized government in Tobruk, not the GNA which still does not exist.Some readers might not realize this due to the manner of reporting on the issue and the fact that the UN has acted as if its existence was just a matter of time, since long before the signing of the LPA on December 17. There have been several meetings to coordinate aid for the GNA and the prime minister designate Serraj has for a long time been visiting foreign capitals. Dabbashi told Reuters that Libya has no intention of requesting Western air strikes against the Islamic State anytime soon. He is speaking for a government that is supposed to dissolve come the middle of January when the GNA takes over although the HoR will remain as a re-legitimized legislature for the GNA. He can hardly speak for what the GNA might do. Certainly the international community is expecting the GNA to give approval for intervention.

What Dabbashi wants is for the UN to lift the arms embargo against Libya. This would give more power to Khalifa Haftar the armed forces commander of the HoR government. He is fighting not just against the Islamic State but also the militia of the rival General National Council(GNC) goverment, forces he considers Islamist terrorists. Dabbashi said: “No one is thinking about requesting foreign intervention at the moment. We are willing to fight ISIS (Islamic State) ourselves. I always said that we need to strengthen our capabilities, our capability to fight ISIS on the ground.” Once the GNA is established, it will be the sole recognized Libyan government. The present government in Tobruk will supposedly be dissolved and the HoR will survive only as the legislature of the new GNA. The function of commander in chief of the Libya National Army will be carried out by senior officials of the GNA not the present commander Khalifa Haftar.

For some reason there has been no announcement of when the HoR will meet to give a vote of confidence in the GNA. Until this happens, the GNA cannot really function and its term is set to be begin from that date according to the last version posted of the LPA. The latest version that was signed on December 17 at Skhirat has not been released on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) website. Perhaps there are changes the UN would not like to reveal to the public. Those from the HoR who agreed to sign the LPA also earlier issued a statement indicating that they supported it only on condition that Haftar keep his job. It will be interesting to see if the HoR demands that Haftar keeps his position in return for their giving a vote of confidence in the GNA. Somehow the UN does not want to talk about this issue or the coming drama in the HoR when the vote of confidence issue comes up.

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