On 17 December 2015, representatives of libya`s two parliaments, municipalities and civil society organisations signed a historic agreement in Skhirat, Morocco. The country`s main factions have agreed to form a government of national unity, an important step towards ending the civil war that has devastated the country since 2011. Although the complex task of regime change in Libya has revealed its shortcomings over the past four years, recent developments represent a glimmer of hope for the future and show the importance of international support in countries in transition. However, great challenges lie ahead. In its implementation, the agreement will face hostility from hardliners and suffer the side effects of fighting the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group. In addition, the role of the various militias in supporting and supporting the agreement will determine the ultimate success of the Libyan dialogue. In short, far from showing unity on the way forward, international actors pursue divergent objectives, including granting or pledging military support to various forces that are only superficially linked to a national army or political control. [fn] A senior Algerian diplomat said: “The most important thing is to unite the international community. It becomes a proxy war. No one is trying to bring all Libyans together. Interview with the Crisis Group, June 2016. A senior UN official said: “The Security Council is divided.
not only the usual suspects, but also the largest number of members. The international community must be coherent. and let the Libyans define the solution. An unpleasant question must be asked: was the agreement pushed in Libya`s best interest? Crisis Group Interview, New York, June 2016.Hide footnote The risk of a growing gap on military support is increasing, with most Western countries supporting the Council and forces loyal to it, and Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates continuing to support what they believe to be the legitimate army under Haftar. In addition, the GNA has used its UN recognition to formally invite Turkey into the Libyan conflict and take foreign interference in Libya to a whole new level compared to previous interventions, which is a clear violation of the UN Security Council`s own resolutions. The implementation of the Security Cooperation Agreement signed between Turkey and the GNA in November 2019 violates Resolution 1970  and has opened the door to further systematic violations of UN sanctions imposed by the 2011 Resolution. In December 2015, the UN Security Council (UNSC) recognized the GNA as Libya`s only executive agency, but the remnants of the GNC in Tripoli and its national salvation government led by Khalifa al-Ghwell refused to hand over power to the GNA. At that time, Libya had three different governments, none of which was capable of governing, but each was able to block the initiatives of the other two.
Libya`s transitional government in Bayda, led by Abdullah al-Thinni, refused to cede power until the GNA was ratified by the House of Representatives and the necessary constitutional conditions were met to include the agreement in the Interim Constitutional Declaration (IMC). From a legal point of view, it is difficult to assess the legitimacy of the agreement. According to AFP, 80 of the 188 legislators of Libya`s internationally recognized parliaments and 50 of the 136 members of the GNC signed the agreement (ABC, 2015). Apart from these figures, other doubts about the legal soundness arose as a result: the signature was not approved by the legislative bodies, with the two heads of parliament declaring that the deputies of Skhirat were present only in their personal capacity. However, the same legitimacy of both parliaments has been questioned several times over the past year, paving the way for a power vacuum that has strengthened terrorist groups. Haftar is also expected to resume work with UNSMIL, especially its security team, to reach broad agreement on a possible security dialogue. The priorities of any political solution should be a compromise under Article 8, in particular with regard to the chains of command between the army and the police, and a consensus on a single security force. Disagreements, including who should lead the military and which Islamist factions to fight (only ISIS and al-Qaeda, or even the groups that collaborated with them), can be overcome by ensuring that key military representatives on both sides sit at the table. It means finding a compromise in which, as one French diplomat put it, “Haftar must be in the picture, even if he cannot be the center of attention.” [fn] Crisis Group Interview, Paris, May 2016.Hide the footnote Nevertheless, ISIS`s activities have been a wake-up call for both parliaments. In early March, the United Nations announced that the two factions had agreed on a new round of talks in Morocco and Algeria. The negotiations in Skhirat were productive and unsmil was able to publish the first draft comprehensive agreement since the beginning of the Libyan dialogue (Azza K. Maghur, 2015).
However, the GNC rejected the project because it was strongly in favour of the RdR. In addition, members of the Tripoli-based legislative body called in May for the suspension of participation in the dialogue and demanded that the head of UNSMIL be replaced. To meet the GNC`s demands, the United Nations made another attempt in June: the recognition of the RDR as Libya`s legitimate parliament and a new draft established the creation of the Council of State, an advisory body composed mainly of GNC members. However, these adjustments were rejected by the HoR, resulting in a pendulum dialogue dynamic in which the new and growing demands of one political faction always clashed with a stubborn rejection of the other faction (Profazio, 2015). The CIM is the country`s political roadmap that governs the transition to Gaddafi. For his part, the commander of the eastern-based Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar, reluctantly agreed to send his own representative to the GNA`s Presidential Council, Ali al-Qatrani. But Haftar never recognized the Skhirat deal and saw it as a threat to his own ambitions to rule Libya. Twice in 2017 and 2020, he declared the Skhirat agreement null and void. In his latest attempt last month, Haftar also unilaterally declared himself the Libyan leader by popular mandate. Skhirat`s underlying goals of avoiding further military confrontation and preventing financial collapse seem to be moving further and further away. ISIS`s setback in Sirte threatens to be followed by fighting between non-jihadists for oil and gas, likely delaying Libya`s ability to boost exports and further jeopardize prospects for peace.
In the longer term, the failure of the peace process and the escalation of clashes would give radical groups an opportunity to regroup. The immediate priority is therefore to avoid the violence that seems to be brewing in the Gulf of Sirte, Benghazi and perhaps Tripoli. Avoiding a new confrontation in the oil crescent is particularly urgent, combined with an agreement that the armed forces will allow the National Oil Corporation to repair damaged facilities and resume exports, as required by Libyan law and UN resolutions. In addition, in their final statement at the end of this international conference, the participants referred to the Libyan internal agreement reached in Skhirat, which is considered by the UN Security Council as “the only viable framework to end the political crisis in Libya”. The continued recognition of the GNA by the United Nations despite its limited control over the country is problematic because the GNA in Libya has no form of national recognition as it has never been ratified by the country`s only legislator, the HoR. In addition, the GNA`s term of office under the Skhirat Agreement is limited to two years and ends in December 2017 . Continued recognition without borders and without controls will impede any progress in reconciliation efforts in Libya. “We have responded to our call to announce the withdrawal of the suspicious political agreement that destroyed the country and bring those you see to power,” Haftar said on Monday. “. At this time, we are proud that, in these exceptional circumstances, libyans have entrusted the LNA`s general command with a historic mission to stop working under this political agreement and make it a thing of the past.
The Council should resist pressure from politicians, including within its ranks, to ignore the August 2016 vote on the RdR. [fn] Talks with crisis groups, Council member, Western diplomat, UN official, Tunis, September 2016. Those who take this position believe that Saleh`s objective is to buy time to further undermine the Council. Above all, American diplomats accuse him of lying and failing to keep his promises on several occasions. Interviews with the Crisis Group, Tunis, 2 September 2016. This position also has supporters in the Tripoli-based High Council of State: September 21. In September 2016, some members called on the Presidential Council and the United Nations to ignore the HoR and support a new government approved exclusively by the High Council of State that boycotts HoR members who support the agreement. In a televised announcement on behalf of the Council, one member, Mohamed Muazzab, called on UNSMIL to “monitor the implementation of the Libyan political agreement and not combine it with the approval of the RdR president, who is sanctioned only by certain countries and rejects the agreement and its results.” .