By Ken Hanly, a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba Canada.
Much of the responsibility for the present chaos in Libya can be traced back to the actions of the UN, the UN Security Council and the many countries who strongly support the UN-brokered Libya Political Agreement (LPA).
The hubris, arrogance, and bad faith of the actions of the former Special Envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon and his successor, Special Representative to the Secretary-General Martin Kobler, are astonishing but everyone applauds them and their efforts.
The Libya Dialogue was a UN-brokered attempt to have the two main rival governments, the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk and the rival General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli along with other stakeholders come to a political agreement which would result in peace and a unity government that both parliaments would accept. The two rival governments would voluntarily hand over power to the unity government. The aim was to have a government that will request foreign military intervention to fight against the Islamic State. The intervention could also deal with the huge flow of immigrants from Libya to Europe.
Bernardino Leon tried for over a year to come up with a draft agreement that both parliaments were expected to sign. Leon himself was discovered to have accepted a high-paying job in the UAE. He also communicated with officials in the UAE, in effect taking orders from them. He was attempting to weaken the GNC and empower the HoR. The UN said there was no conflict of interest involved even though the conflict was perfectly clear. Leon's final draft of a Libya Political Agreement (LPA) was accepted by Leon's successor Martin Kobler who claimed it could not be amended. He then tried, without success, to have the LPA adopted by the two parliaments.
Instead of reviving the Dialogue, Kobler gathered together members of the Dialogue who approved the LPA and its associated Government of National Accord (GNA) in Skhirat, Morocco. There were members from both parliaments present but none had signing authority. The Skhirat LPA was signed on December 17. There was no Libyan Political Agreement as intended by the original dialogue but a scheme for forced regime change imposed upon the two rival governments. This is obvious, but the media ignore this background. Even this LPA has been violated numerous times. The LPA has also been amended, for example by changing the number of deputy ministers from three to nine. Yet the Skihirat agreement is praised by numerous governments and is supported by a resolution in the UN Security Council which threatens those who block its implementation with sanctions.
The UN still faced the unfortunate fact that even the Skhirat LPA required the HoR to vote confidence in the GNA. A formal vote has never happened. Instead a statement by an alleged majority of the HoR that supports the GNA was used as an equivalent. There still has to be an amendment by the HoR to the constitutional declaration of 2011 to incorporate the GNA into the constitution. As with so much else, this is mostly ignored. The last four meetings of the HoR have not had a quorum. The GNA went ahead and declared itself up and running and the UN and associated international cheerleaders urged it to move to Tripoli. Not the slightest hint that the UN or GNA has done anything wrong even though they have been violating their own rules,
It should come as no surprise that since neither government agreed to the LPA or GNA that they have not ceded power, in spite of threats from the UN and the promise of good jobs in the new government. The HoR is actually the legislature of the GNA and the State Council is composed of GNC members. As Mohamed Eljarh of the Atlantic Council in Washington put it: "The birth of this government in this way has done nothing but worsen the political crisis... create new conflicts and further destabilise."
The GNC has not given Kobler permission to land at the Mitiga airport in Tripoli. Kobler tweeted: "Again had to cancel flight to Tripoli... UN must have the right to fly (to) Tripoli," Kobler has the force of a UN Security Council resolution behind him, the same resolution that has been used to threaten sanctions against two officials of the UN. The result seems to have been to harden positions.
The same has happened in the HoR with the parliament refusing to hand over power and objecting to the move to Tripoli before a formal vote is held. The international community and the UN refuse to recognize that any of this is due to them. It is all a result of a handful of "spoilers". Among the spoilers, is Khalifa Haftar whose Operation Dignity was in large part responsible for the present civil war. He was once to be sanctioned but that is ancient history and his name no longer comes up just Ageela Salah, head of the HoR.
Michael Nayebi-Oskui, a Middle East and North Africa analyst said: "Unless the international community can give the GNA control over Libyan finances, a powerful national army, and somehow make it legitimate in the eyes of the Libyan people, the GNA is poised to become the weakest of Libya's three competing national authorities." There do seem to be attempts to cause financial difficulties for the GNC government to turn people against it. The most powerful army is no doubt that of the HoR, the Libyan National Army (LNA) mostly composed of former militia of the commander in chief Khalifa Haftar. The UN will not take him on and sideline him since he has the support of Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, and the Arab League. If he remains head of the LNA then the GNA is doomed for all the Islamists in the GNA will revolt.
While the divisions within Libya itself are an important factor creating problems and conflict within Libya, even those divisions are exacerbated by foreign intervention in support of one group or another. However, UN intervention with the support of numerous foreign governments, often former colonial powers, has exacerbated the situation through gross violation of its own rules in order to achieve a compliant government to legitimize foreign intervention.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Libya Observer