Still no agreement after UN proposes peace deal for Libya

Thu 23 Jul 2015

Still no agreement after UN proposes peace deal for Libya

In the recent weeks rival parliaments in Libya have been holding UN-sponsored talks in Morocco with an attempt to restore the stability within the country. The UN Security Council has urged Libyan factions to sign on to UN envoy Bernardino Leon’s proposals in a bid to stem rising violence and the spread of radical organizations such as the militant organization the Islamic State (IS).

Peace deal
While delegates from the elected parliament which is officially recognized by the West - the House of Representatives based eastern Libya, signed the deal, the Tripoli-based parliament backed by Islamists, the General National Congress (GNC), refused to attend the ceremony in the Moroccan resort of Skhirat, saying the draft was not “satisfactory” and calling for “modifications”. Nevertheless, some representatives from municipalities in Tripoli and the western city of Misrata allied to the militia Libya Dawn signed the deal.
Among the sticking points is a call for "respecting the judiciary" a possible reference to a Supreme Court decision invalidating the Tobruk parliament which was elected in June 2014. Another of the key issues where the parties are divided is the status of General Khalifa Haftar. He has been declared the army chief by the Tobruk administration, but GNC wants him removed.

According the plan, Libya will get a one-year government of national accord. A council of ministers headed by a prime minister and two deputies would have executive authority. The House of Representatives would be the legislative body, a plan meeting opposition from the GNC. It consists of six points aimed at "laying the foundation for a modern, democratic state based on the principle of inclusion, the rule of law, separation of powers and respect for human rights", Leon said. The UN-brokered deal will provide the rival groups with a framework to live together and begin a transitional period of one year in which they can decide issues including disarmament, control of the country's airports and writing a constitution. In a joint statement, 11 nations that were involved in the talks and the European Union congratulated the delegates "who have demonstrated their responsibility, leadership and courage in this crucial moment by signing this draft agreement". The role of regional countries including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey was said to be vital to the pact. A spokesman for the UN chief said: "This act is a clear demonstration of political will and courage and brings the country one step closer to resolving the current institutional and security crisis."

Sanctions to those against the deal
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini welcomed the deal as "an important step towards restoring peace and stability in Libya" and urged the GNC to initial it as well. Mogherini also confirmed, however, that the EU is preparing sanctions against five Libyans accused of blocking the peace deal, after EU foreign ministers agreed to pressure all sides to negotiate. Three senior militants who have threatened violence against any future unity government, as well as two military leaders who say their faction cannot abide by any accord, will be hit with EU travel bans and asset freezes unless they change their position, diplomats said. The agreement is exceptionally important for the EU as there is a naval operation planned in order to tackle the smuggler business and the cooperation from the Libya government cannot be reached as long as the inner instability and two government rule continues.

Political Situation
Libya has been locked in a bitter power struggle with two opposing governments and parliaments and armed groups battling to control its cities and oil wealth since August last year when Libya Dawn militias seized control of the nation's capital. The rival General National Congress (GNC) is based in Tripoli and was set up by a militia alliance known as Libya Dawn, including Islamists, known as Fajr Libya, after it seized the capital last August. The House of Representatives who were forced to flee the capital now is based in the city of Tobruk and continue to debate laws and plan the future from the eastern city. Parts of the west and centre are controlled by the Libya Dawn forces, leaving the einternationally recognised parliament and government a rump state in the far east. The two parliaments deal with other much like independent countries.

ISIS spread

A growing presence of jihadists affiliated and the self-declared Islamic State are also gaining a foothold in Libya. Islamic State militants have exploited the power struggle by increasing their presence in Libya as they did in Syria, Iraq and Egypt. A number of Islamist militias, remnants of Libya's 2011 war that removed colonel Qaddafi from power, have allied themselves with the group. Jihadists are using the country as a hub to coordinate broader regional violence and launch attacks. The group has executed dozens of Christians and attacked embassies. The offshoot of IS in Libya has taken almost complete control of the central Libyan city of Sirte. At the end of May, the group captured the city's civilian airport, pushing out forces loyal to Libya's Tripoli-based government.

In order to help rebuild and refocus Libya’s security infrastructure, the United States will train five thousand to eight thousand security forces, as it is increasingly concerned about the prevalence of terrorist groups and potential weapons transfers across the country’s unmonitored borders. Other neighboring countries have vowed to offer security assistance over fear of Islamic State spillover, which established a foothold in the Libyan city of Derna, close to the border with Egypt.

Al Jazeera, Defense News, Reuters, International Business Times 1  2, Global Conflict Tracker