Paris meeting between two Libyan leaders results in an agreement

(July 26) In a joint press conference in the suburbs of Paris, Faiez Serraj, head of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) and Khalifa Haftar, commander of the armed forces of the rival eastern-based government announced an agreement on ten points.

The meeting was held under the auspices of French President Emmanuel Macron. The agreement includes a ceasefire across Libya. At present there are no ongoing clashes between troops loyal to the GNA and those loyal to Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA). There were clashes earlier but the GNA forces ended up giving up territory in the Al Jufra area to forces loyal to the LNA. Perhaps, the ceasefire will ensure that Haftar does not advance into Sirte or Tripoli but he will no doubt continue with an attack on Derna as he classifies those in control of the city as terrorists. If there is any strong opposition to Haftar among militia loyal to the GNA, Haftar could also clash with them on the grounds they are terrorists.
The two also agreed that there should be elections next Spring. There is no mention of a new constitution or of the work being done already on the constitution. After a tripartite meeting with Serraj, Haftar, and Macron, the new UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame joined the talks. The statement also said that there were no military solutions to Libya's problems but political solutions through national reconciliation that includes all parties. Military power is not to be used by any party except to fight terrorism. This is a large exception as Haftar typically classifies any group that is strongly opposed to him as terrorist.
The statement also calls for releasing fighters of militia and withdrawing weapons and that both parties should allow fighters who wish to join the official forces of the Libyan state to do so. But what forces are those? There is at present no unified government or armed forces as envisioned under the Libyan Political Agreement signed in Skhirat in December of 2015. How are militia to be disarmed and disbanded? The statement refers to the LPA but the LPA assumes that there will be one unified army. The statement says: "We are working on a strategy for security in Libya that will see all current security and military units joined under one body to combat illegal immigration, human trafficking and other violations via Libya's borders." Just how are the military units to be joined under one body? No mention of how that is to be done. No mention of Haftar's role in all this.
The statement ends by calling on the UN Security Council to support the agreements and have the new UN envoy Ghassam Salame organize the talks needed to rally the parties around the new process. For some reason, the statement was not signed by either Serraj or Haftar. The Libya Herald has an extensive report on the meeting along with the text of the final statement.
The agreement also said that the two would put the LPA into full operation. No mention that Haftar rejects the LPA as it is since it makes the PC act as commander in chief of the armed forces. Haftar has constantly tried to block the progress of the LPA and the GNA government. The HoR has twice rejected the GNA. Haftar has also said a number of times that he believes there is a military solution to the crisis. Indeed Haftar has been successful militarily in taking total control of Benghazi. He has also taken over oil ports in the oil crescent and as well has made recent advances in the Al Jufra area. He is well placed to insist on his demands. While the statement says that the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High State Council(HSC) of the GNA would play a role in the political dialogue there was no deadline set for suggested amendments to the LPA to be presented and no mention of the HoR voting on the amended LPA and GNA as required under the present terms of the GNA.
The Herald notes: "So far, despite the unlikelihood of it appealing to certain members of the HoR such as the National Sovereignty Bloc or HoR president Ageela Saleh, the meeting and agreement have drawn initial tentative approval from a number of HoR member and those of the State Council." There has been no official statement from either the HoR or the PC or HSC. However, the Justice and Construction Party associated with the Muslim Brotherhood rejected the agreement saying: “Holding meetings under the auspices of individual states is a deviation from the political track of the political agreement and a mix-up of it. Such meetings open the way for the agendas of those states to favor one side over the other and to deepen the division and crisis”
Al Jazeera also reports on the meeting. The Al Jazeera correspondent noted: "There are no guarantees of success. Serraj and Haftar still have to sell the deal to the various political factions that have not been directly involved in the talks here, which is going to be a tall order."
The meeting appears to be a way around problems associated with the LPA. The UN together with France are attempting to find another way to satisfy Hafar and create a unified government. One would think that the HoR government, its PM Al Thanni, and speaker Ageelah Saleh would be incensed that they were not the ones to negotiate with Serraj who represents the GNA but a military commander Khalifa Haftar. It simply shows who the international community thinks is boss. Apparently this is supposed to be a legitimate match-up. Anything is legitimate that the powerful think is so. The UN and foreign powers are once again settings things up with the hope that Libya will develop in the way that they wish. Libyans may not go along with these plans and conflicts may break out anew.

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