UN's coup in Libya

Opinion Saturday 16/January/2016 14:52 PM
By: Times News Service
UN's coup in Libya

This weekend, Sunday the 17th January to be precise, will mark the international community’s day of infamy, as it tries to push through a new Libyan government elected by nobody and answerable to nobody.
The United Nations has heralded the new government, a third one by my count, as a unifying force, capable of ending Libya’s civil war and persuade the violent militias to come together and crush the IS extremists. So runs the fantasy.
In fact, the grandly named Government of National Accord (GNA) is nothing of the sort. It is a coup, by the United Nations. As Peter Oborne of Britain’s Spectator magazine wrote after a recent visit to the country. “As far as I can discover, this is the first time that the UN have sanctioned a coup d’etat against a democratically elected government.”
He is right. In the summer of 2014 the United Nations supervised, paid for, and approved elections for Libya’s parliament, the House of Representatives.
Hardly was the ink dry on the election results than Libya Dawn, an alliance of extremists and Misratans, having lost the argument in the ballot box, rebelled and captured Tripoli, forcing the elected government to flee to Tobruk.
You would expect the UN, having given official recognition to the parliament, to back it up, and you would be wrong. Instead, the international community has spent the past year pressurising the elected parliament to share power with the militias of Libya Dawn.
The parliament has refused, sensibly saying that peace in Libya can come only from the ballot box, not the gun. In December, the UN, pushed by America and Britain, turned its back on the elected government, conjuring a brand-new government to take its place.
In fact, this GNA is a farce. It is composed of a nine-strong presidency, headed by a prime minister, Faize Seraj, all men picked by the UN itself. Since being forced in December it has been unable even to visit Libya - Seraj made a brief visit earlier this month, just long enough to come under fire in Misrata and then be expelled by Libya Dawn from Tripoli back to his base in Tunis.
The one carrot the UN has to offer is international recognition - because this status means that, at the stroke of a pen, the GNA’s nine people will control Libya’s $109 billion in foreign reserves. This also makes the GNA utterly beholden to the UN, and to the western nations who conjured it into existence.
UN envoy Martin Kobler told the BBC last week he hopes that the elected parliament in Tobruk will next week agree to the GNA taking all this money and control, but my contacts in Libya say there is absolutely no chance that will be agreed to. One told me it would be “suicide” for parliament in effect to vote itself out of existence.
While this farce is playing out, Libya’s war is going on as before, only worse.
In Tripoli, Libya Dawn militias are fighting each other. In recent months, they battled in turf wars, for who would control which district. Now they are fighting for pole position, aware that, as the capital has no regular army, some of them will be picked as “official” forces to protect the GNA.
In eastern Libya, things are different. Tobruk, after months of sleeping at the wheel, has begun making moves to take control of oil production. While western fields are out of use, and IS extremists has captured the Sirte Basin fields in central Libya, the eastern fields at Sarir are still producing, giving Libya almost its only income. General Khalifa Haftar, the armed forces commander of the elected government, last week secured them, and the precious pipeline north to the coast, by moving army units south to block any advance on them by IS.
This is because Tobruk knows it holds all the cards: It has the democratic legitimacy, and with oil production, it has the income. UN officials insist that giving international recognition to the GNA means they will control oil sales, but Tobruk says different. It has already signed a deal to export two million barrels of oil a week to Egypt, its most valuable ally.
The international community, meanwhile, insists it is ready to pour in aid and help. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has pledged 100 million Euros to the new government - although with its $109 billion, the one thing the GNA will not be short of, if the UN gets its way, is money for the poker game it will need to play with all the many Libyan actors, especially the cash hungry militias.
What it is short of is loyal troops. It has none. The only way it can get into Tripoli, let alone govern, is if Britain and Italy make good on promises in December to send several thousand troops to the capital. But this month, IS detonated a truck bomb to devastate Zliten police college, one of only three in the country, killing 65 and injuring up to 200. London and Rome won’t say it, but they know that any future deployment by them will run the huge risk of more truck bombs, and body bags.
With no foreign troops likely to give this UN-regime teeth, the GNA’s prospects of success are zero.
Such an outcome was predicted by Dr Mahmoud Jibril, leader of the National Forces Alliance, Libya’s largest political party which has twice trumped the Muslim Brotherhood when Libyan voters were asked to make a choice. His conviction is that Libya’s problems cannot be solved by outside intervention, and the farce of the GNA will inadvertently prove him right. Like Haftar, Jibril is ignored by the international community. Yet both men’s singular vision, one from a military perspective, the other political, of a country run by Libyans for Libyans, is likely to be around long after this UN fiasco is forgotten.
The International community has yet another 'important' conference roadshow in Rome about Libya on Monday the 18th January which will also produce nothing that the Libyan people have asked for but only what the international community want to see happen. And we in the West call this democracy! No wonder the third world is so disillusioned about Western intentions.