UN approach to Libyan conflict criticised

Sunday 11/09/2016
Libyan political leaders attend a UN-sponsored meeting of the Libya Dialogue committee on September 5th, in the Tunisian capital, Tunis.

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.