UN approach to Libyan conflict criticised
Tunis - Many Libyan officials are not happy with UN Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler or his predecessor, Bernardino Leon. They said the United Nations took the wrong approach to resolving the Libyan crisis when the international body tried to form a Presidential Council and the Government of National Accord (GNA).
From that outlook, the United Nations appears to be ignoring tribal and local conflicts. It also shows a lack of awareness regarding the nature of Libyan society, which views tribal authority as important in political or even military matters.
For two years, Libya has been divided between two governments, each with its own parliament.
The country’s Islamists, who had dominated the General National Congress (GNC) in 2012, lost their parliamentary majority in the 2014 legislative elections, which formed the new House of Representatives (HoR).
Refusing to hand over power, the Islamists formed an alliance with the Libya Dawn militia, which expelled forces loyal to the new parliament from Tripoli in what is now known as the “airport battle”.
The HoR, backed by the Libyan National Army (LNA), which is headed by General Khalifa Haftar, moved to the east of the country.
The division prompted the United Nations to launch negotiations aimed at forming a unified government and army to face growing threat of the terror groups, particularly the Islamic State (ISIS). However, negotiations between the two Libyan rivals led to the formation of a third government, in addition to the existing two, when parliament refused to recognise it.
Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh accused the United Nations and Kobler of being ignorant of what is going in Libya, calling for the country’s dossier to be handed to Arab states instead of the international body.
Libyans have been bitterly divided by armed conflicts and power struggles since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that led to the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Observers have long stressed that the United Nations will not achieve the desired agreement between Libya’s rival government before securing a comprehensive reconciliation between the components of the Libyan society.
Ehtuish Farag Ehtuish, minister of Health during the Qaddafi era, said foreign powers are not really devoted to finding a solution to Libya’s crisis as they are more concerned with their own interests.
“For the reconciliation dialogue to succeed, it must involve all components of Libyan society,” he said, “but the West still insists on the exclusion of some of the important parties in the Libyan scene, such as the supporters of the former regime.”
Ehtuish stressed that the solution must come from Libyans themselves, who should “not wait for an outsider to do the job”, urging his countrymen to stop the infighting.
Foreign powers “are only managing the crisis” in Libya, he noted.
Kobler is viewed with mistrust by officials from both Libyan camps, who wish to see him replaced. He is especially viewed with suspicion by the HoR and Haftar, who see him as siding with the GNC-backed government in Tripoli.