By: Al Sanousi Bseikri
Since its launch, the political dialogue did not see the controversy being raised today. The opposing parties, and even the partners, have not disagreed over the content of the drafts submitted by the Head of the UN Support Mission to Libya, Bernandino Leon, as they have disagreed over the fifth draft.
The position regarding the fifth draft was supported by Parliament and rejected by the National Conference, or its presidency and its supporters. There is also division in the position of the MPs, who boycott the parliament sessions after the majority of its members decided to convene in the city of Tubroq.
It is certain that the position of the parties regarding the fifth draft is different than their position regarding its predecessor, which was rejected by parliament, or its presidency. A number of MPs declared its acceptance, and there was controversy within the Tubroq Front where the supporters of the draft were declared traitors and accused of accepting bribes from international players. This is the same scenario raised by those who rejected the fifth draft within the Tripoli Front. Some of them talked about promises by Leon to the members of the Conference regarding a rewarding pension in the event that they announce their resignation from the National Conference. The negotiating party representing the National Conference talked about strong pressures that turned into direct threats by European ambassadors against the Tripoli Front, which is no longer a cohesive unified front as it was when the Libyan Dawn operation was launched last year. There are clear differences among its components regarding the fifth draft.
The source of the controversy is Leon’s position and his approach regarding the dialogue. It was clear that Leon was nervous in interacting with the conflicting parties, and this was reflected on to the phrasing of the drafts. The parties in each round were surprised with a draft that is essentially different from its predecessor, which points to an absence of objectivity, wisdom and control, where the draft gradually evolves in a balanced manner to become a copy that is agreed upon by the main parties.
This turmoil in the content of the drafts points to a lack of vision and compass by the UN and its representative in Libya. A wise mediator needs to deduce from the overlaps in the positions and demands of the parties to the conflict the foundations of a vision to guarantee the success of the dialogue. This is certainly missing, and is confirmed by the significant changes in each draft submitted to the parties compared with those that came before it, in a manner that surprises the concerned parties and leads them to feel that the mediator is not neutral but rather subject to agendas from outside the negotiation room that appear repeatedly in the drafts.
The controversy today around the fifth draft is due to the reservations of the National Conference and its supporters regarding what they considered the empowerment of their adversaries, the supporters of the parliament, in the decision making process, including withdrawing the confidence granted to the prime minister of the unity government and his appointment, the appointment of the supreme commander of the army, the approval of the means through which the army was established in the eastern region and the consideration of the Conference’s force as a militia. Although the draft did not explicitly refer to what some Conference supporters believe to be in the draft, many observers believed that the phrasing of the draft can be interpreted as it was by the Conference supporters, including the provision on the decision of the Constitutional Department of the Supreme Court, which ruled to dissolve parliament. The phrasing can be understood as a rejection of the decision on the pretext that it leads to political vacuum and instability.
As for the General “Khalifeh Haftar”, the supporters of the National Conference demand his recusal while the other party insists on him. The conference supporters say that the draft enables Haftar to stay a Supreme Army Commander through the draft’s recognition of the validity of parliament’s decisions and requiring consensus in the decisions of the Council of Ministers which granted the powers to remove and appoint the army commander. The Conference supporters confirm that it will be difficult to attain a consensus to remove Haftar, and in case consensus can be achieved it will be difficult to reach a consensus on an unbiased alternative.
Therefore, the final draft is still the subject of much controversy. The Conference supports are attempting to mobilize their political, community and military forces to agree on its rejection and prepare for any possible repercussions, which is a hasty position and may contribute to additional rifts in the Tripoli Front, but on the other hand is based on anger and it is unwise for the international community to ignore. The results of the pressures practiced by the European parties may be disastrous and may plunge Tripoli into a state of chaos. If the capitol enters into a state of chaos then the situation will become much more complex and then attempting to find a solution to the Libyan crisis will be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.