New UN envoys approved to mediate Libya

Security Council approves UN chief’s proposal to appoint Bulgarian Nickolay Mladenov as UN Libya special envoy and Norwegian Tor Wennesland as UN Middle East envoy.
NEW YORK – The UN Security Council on Tuesday approved a proposal by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint Bulgarian Nickolay Mladenov as the UN Libya special envoy and Norwegian Tor Wennesland as the UN Middle East envoy, diplomats said.

Mladenov will replace Ghassan Salame, who stepped down as the UN Libya envoy in March due to stress, and Wennesland succeeds Mladenov, who has spent the past five years as the UN mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.

The appointments end months of bickering among council members sparked by a US push to split the Libya role, with one person running the UN political mission and another focused on conflict mediation. The Security Council agreed to that proposal in September, but Russia and China abstained.

Libya descended into chaos after the NATO-backed overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. In October, the two major sides in the country’s war – the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) – agreed a ceasefire.

“The members of the Security Council underlined the importance of a credible and effective Libyan-led Ceasefire Monitoring Mechanism and looked forward to a comprehensive report by the Secretary-General on the proposals for effective ceasefire monitoring under the auspices of the United Nations,” the 15-member body said in a statement on Tuesday.

The council also reiterated a call for the withdrawal of all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya.

Wennesland is currently Norway’s special envoy on the Middle East peace process. The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

First published on Middle East Online

UN voices optimism as military rivals meet in Libya

The United Nations voiced optimism on Monday as rival Libyan military officers began talks on home soil for the first time following a ceasefire agreement last month.

“A lot of progress was made today,” Stephanie Williams, the UN’s acting envoy to the troubled North African nation, said at the end of the first day of talks.

“The courage and determination… between those officers is what is needed from your political class,” she added.

The three-day meeting of the joint military commission is taking place in Ghadames, a desert oasis some 465 kilometres (290 miles) south-west of the capital Tripoli.

The remote area, near Libya’s borders with both Algeria and Tunisia, is far from the power bases of either side.

The military commission had been dubbed “5+5,” because it is made up of five officers from each camp.

“It’s not the 5+5 now, it’s the Committee of Ten,” added Williams. “It’s truly a joint Libyan committee.”

The meeting follows an October 23 deal when the two warring factions signed a “permanent” ceasefire agreement intended to pave the way towards a political solution to the country’s grinding conflict.

Williams said Monday that a “determination to implement the ceasefire agreement was present at the table.”

Libya, with Africa’s largest proven crude oil reserves, has been wracked by conflict for nearly a decade, since the overthrow and killing of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.

It has since been dominated by armed groups and divided between two bitterly-opposed administrations: the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital Tripoli, and a rival administration in the east backed by the Libyan National Army (LNA) and its commander, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

The talks are part of long-running efforts to broker peace.

Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli in April 2019, but was pushed back in June by the GNA with military support from Turkey.

Warring factions returned to the negotiating table in September in UN-supported talks, with negotiations being held in Morocco, Egypt and Switzerland.

On November 9, the political leaders are due to hold face-to-face talks in Tunisia to discuss a political roadmap that would eventually lead to presidential and parliamentary elections.

The UN mission last week held a virtual preparatory meeting, with both sides of the conflict criticising the mission over the choice of attendees.

“Libyans want respect and justice; they want unified and fair governance; and most importantly they want national unity, national sovereignty and a coherent social fabric. What matters to the Libyan people is ‘what’ — not ‘who,’” Williams said at that online meeting.

First published on Arab Weekly

United Nations announces launch of Libyan political dialogue

Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Libya, Stephanie Williams, announced on Monday the launch of political consultations between the Libyan parties via video conference within the framework of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. The direct meeting will begin on November 9.

Williams said – according to a statement issued by the United Nations on Sunday – that the resumption of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum comes at a time when great hope prevails after the signing of the permanent ceasefire agreement throughout Libya on October 23. She indicated that the consultative meetings with several Libyan parties in the previous months facilitated the re-launch of the Libyan Political Forum.

The statement added that the UN mission had invited 75 participants representing all the political and social spectrums of the Libyan society, to participate in the first meeting of the comprehensive Libyan Political Forum via video conference.

The statement indicated that the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum is a comprehensive Libyan-Libyan dialogue based on the outcomes of the Berlin Conference on Libya, which was approved by the Security Council Resolution 2510 (2020) and Security Council Resolution 2542 (2020).

Williams noted that the participants in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum were selected from different categories based on the principles of inclusiveness and fair geographical, political, tribal, and social representation.

She explained that the group includes representatives from the Libyan House of Representatives and the High Council of State, in addition to the active political forces outside the two institutions; this coordination takes place in light of the commitment to the participation of women, and youth.

The statement indicated that the first meeting of the members of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum reviewed the latest developments related to the economic and military tracks, the human rights path, and the international humanitarian law. The participants heard the recommendations of the meetings held by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General with representatives of the Libyan community from the municipalities, as well as women, youth and civil society representatives.

The mission called on all forum participants to shoulder their responsibilities before the Libyan people and to engage constructively and in good faith in the talks, placing Libya and the public interest as a priority.

The mission expressed appreciation for the commitment of the forum participants and the spirit of responsibility and patriotism of those who chose to withdraw from the Forum for Political Dialogue because of their desire to run for executive positions in the preliminary stage, which enhances the transparency and legitimacy of this process.

The statement emphasized that the main goal of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum is to find consensus on a unified executive authority and on the arrangements for holding national elections in the shortest possible time to restore Libyan sovereignty and give democratic legitimacy to Libyan institutions.

In exclusive statements to Egypt Today, Ali al-Takbali, a member of the National Defense and Security Committee in the Libyan Parliament, accused the United Nations Support Mission in Libya of selecting a large number of figures belonging to the political Islam movement.

In turn, Libyan Member of Parliament Ibrahim Al-Dorsi said that the Libyan people are interested in the political dialogue meetings to achieve their aspirations, explaining that no one knows the international mission’s criteria for selecting names to participate in the political dialogue, and no one knows the reasons for the absence of figures with great influence.

Darsi criticized the marginalization of important figures in the eastern region of the country in favour of names that have no influence, ruling out the existence of a clear and specific mechanism for selecting the participating personalities. He stressed that the international mission was supposed to choose the political dialogue committee thoughtfully and not randomly.

Meanwhile, Libyan politician FarajYassin confirmed that most of the participants in the political dialogue meetings are ambiguous, accusing these participants of fueling the Libyan scene, especially those affiliated to the Brotherhood. Yassin further explained that they will not reach satisfactory results unless they are subjected to international pressure, most importantly from the United States.

The Libyan politician indicated that the Libyan military meetings had reached good results that were hindered by the reconciliation government, referring to the crimes of armed militias that destroyed the capabilities of the Libyan people and burnt oil tanks.

Yassin accused the United Nations of following the path of some Western countries that wrongly diagnosed the Libyan case to impose terrorist groups on the political scene.

The delegations of the Military Committee at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, signed a ceasefire agreement on October 23, in the presence of the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-general of the United Nations and the Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Stephanie Williams.

This agreement came as a result of the continuous efforts led by the Egyptian state to reduce tension inside the Libyan territories and achieve peace and security for the Libyan people.

The Cairo meetings in Hurghada and the six military meetings that were held in Cairo during the years 2017 and 2018 paved the way for the signing of the ceasefire agreement in the Swiss city, Geneva.

The success achieved today came as a continuation of the first face-to-face meeting hosted by Egypt in Hurghada late September,” Hafez said, urging the countries involved in the Libyan affairs to contribute to the efforts to ensure the ceasefire.

Previously, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi met with LAAF head, Commander KhalifaHaftar, and Libyan Parliamentary Speaker AguilaSalehin Cairo, to discuss ways to resolve the Libyan crisis. Both Libyan officials emphasized that any initiative to solve the crisis in the war-torn country has to include “the removal of Turkish-backed mercenaries and militias.”

It is worth mentioning that GNA Head Fayez al-Sarraj announced earlier in September his intention to resign by the end of October.

Libya has suffered a severe division between two factions; the Libyan Parliament and the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal KhalifaHaftar in the east; and the GNA led by Fayez al-Sarraj. The latter is internationally recognized but is not accepted by the Parliament.

First published on Egypt Today

UN welcomes Libyan Prime Minister’s decision to step down

The United Nations welcomes the decision by Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister to step down by the end of October, a UN statement released Thursday said.

The Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli, Fayez al-Sarraj, announced his decision in a televised speech on Wednesday.
“I declare my sincere desire to hand over my duties to the next executive authority no later than the end of October,” al-Sarraj said, citing “internal and external conspiracies” and other obstacles to the effectiveness of his government.
Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General Stephanie Williams commended the decision in a statement, saying it “comes at a decisive turning point in Libya’s longstanding crisis when it is clear that the situation is no longer sustainable.”
“The onus is now on concerned Libyan parties to fully shoulder their responsibilities before the Libyan people, to take historic decisions, and to accept mutual concessions for the sake of their country,” Williams said.

Asharq Al-Awsat: French Carrier Spots Turkish Frigate Escorting Delivery of Armored Vehicles to Tripoli

France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier this week spotted a Turkish frigate escorting a cargo ship delivering armored vehicles to the Libyan capital Tripoli in defiance of a UN embargo, a French military source said.

The cargo ship Bana docked in Tripoli port on Wednesday, said the source, who asked not to be named.

The armored vehicles were apparently intended for the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Libya’s warring parties are led by Libyan National Army (LNA) chief Khalifa Haftar and Sarraj.

UN special representative for Libya Ghassan Salame accused foreign actors Thursday of continuing to meddle in Libya’s conflict, in violation of commitments made at the Berlin Conference this month.

Speaking before the UN Security Council, Salame warned that “these maneuvers to resupply the two parties threaten to precipitate a new and much more dangerous conflagration.”

“They violate the spirit and the letter of the Berlin Conference,” Salame said in an impassioned briefing in front of the 15-member council.

“I urge the parties and their foreign sponsors to desist from reckless actions and instead renew their expressed commitment to work towards a ceasefire,” he added.

World leaders committed to ending all foreign interference and to uphold a weapons embargo to help end Libya’s war during the conference in the German capital on January 19.