By: Hafed Al-Ghwell*
The leaked emails published by the Guardian about Bernardino Leon, the UN Secretary General Special Envoy to Libya and the supposed mediator on behalf of the International Community, to
bring peace and stability to the war torn country (see the report on the Guardian), are extremely significant and represent a blow to the UN’s credibility and reputation around the globe.
Moreover, they also uncover the cynical role the UAE government is playing on the Libyan scene at the urging of and via two of its Libyan proxies; former PM, Mahmoud Jebril, and more significantly the current Libyan Ambassador to the UAE, Arif Nayed, who has been playing the role of a “double agent” over the past 4 years, serving both as an ambassador and advisor to the Libyan PM; Al-Thinni, on “National Security”, as well as an active candidate to become Libya’s PM, going as far as hiring a Washington and London based lobbyists to promote him to the US and the EU officials and media. (check the Foreign Agent Registration Database for more). And who, sources tell me, was responsible directly for convincing, his friend, the Foreign Minister of the UAE and Leon’s new boss in the Diplomatic Academy, to offer Leon a job in the hope that he can manipulate the UN process in his favor and get picked as the new PM of the planned Unity Government that Leon was to propose as the end-game of the year long negotiation.
Unfortunately for Arif Nayed, and despite circulating his name as one of the possible candidates, he never made it to the final list proposed by Leon few weeks ago, because too many Libyans opposed his presence on the list and considered him a partisan in the ongoing civil war, suckering in and arranging for funding and arms to some militias on behalf of the UAE, which he convinced that he can be a trusted partner in Libya in the future..
It has been long argued by many Libyans, that they strongly believe Leon has not be fully honest or impartial in his year long efforts to supposedly reach a political agreement and that he has been exclusionary and selective in choosing those who participated in it on all tracks, political, Civil Society, Security etc.
With the leaked personal emails from Leon to UAE officials, we now have clear proof and admissions from Leon himself that all this is in fact TRUE, and has been going on, since the beginning of the process; December 2014. These emails also show that he was manipulating the EU and the US, and in his words “trying to control the process” and urging both to work with the UAE and follow the process he laid out and which he admits openly was in large parts designed by both Jebril and Nayed.
All this brings to question not only the credibility of the UN , but also the role of the UAE and its naivety in allowing these Libyan proxies to use its name and position to manipulate and damage its own reputation and that of the international community and its processes , and, more importantly, the EU and the US in particular who have stood behind this process at the urging of Leon in his many reports to the Security Council and meetings with the EU and the US ambassadors and Special Envoys on Libya.
What should be done now save the the UN, the EU and the US reputation and impartiality in global peace and security?
1 – The UN needs to immediately replace Leon and open an official investigation into this matter to avert major repercussions on its impartiality in other efforts around the world.
2- The “recognized” Libyan government needs to sake its Ambassador to the UAE immediately, and open an investigation into the role of the UAE and its Libyan proxies, the former PM, Jebril, and the current ambassador, Nayed, and their cabal and which has been involved in the manipulation of the international community and directly responsible for the failed transition in Libya since 2011.
3- Both the USA and the EU need to immediately distant themselves from Leon, Nayed, Jebril, and the UAE and denounce this significant breach of international trust and exclude them from any future international efforts in Libya.
4- A new and far more transparent and inclusive UN sponsored peace process needs to be launched immediately under the newly appointed UN Envoy, Martin Kobler, that should include the parties, that we now know were willfully excluded by Leon.. i.e representatives of the different ethnic groups such as Tuareg, Tabu, Amazigh, in addition to the large numbers of supporters of Gaddafi, 100s of 1000s of whom are in exile inside Libya and in Egypt and Tunisia, Tribal leaders, independent Libyans who have not been involved in the civil war, as well as forming an advisory panel of international independent Libyan academics and experts such as Dirk Vandwell, Ann Meyers, Ethan Chorion, Michele Dunn, Liz Anderson, Mattia.Toaldo, Karim Mezran, Frederic Wehrey, Bill Lawrence and others to inform the process and maintain its credibility.
It should be clearly understood that this Leon scandal is a major issue and blow, not just for Libya, but for the reputation and credibility of the entire mission of the United Nations and international community, and their role in negotiating and mediating peace around the globe…. and MUST be dealt with as such.
*Senior Nonresident Fellow at the Atlantic Council and former advisor to the Board of Directors of the World Bank Group