Middle east eye website published full text of an e-mail United Nations envoy Bernardino Leon sent to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) foreign minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in which he discussed Libyan situation and developments of the political process.
Leon predicted in his e-mail that Libya is heading towards more escalation and civil war, which started with Tripoli- Misrata attack against Ras Lanuf and Haftar’s response.
He stated that it would be beneficial if they worked with the House of Representatives (HoR) and the members of its government more than relying on Al-Thinni. He stressed the need to “support the HoR, delegitimize the General National Congress (GNC), reaching political agreement that supports moderate forces in Libya and break dangerous alliance between Misratans and radical Islamists”.
Leon said in his e-mail, of 31 December 2014, that Libya is entering whole new level of civil war and aggression, adding that Tripoli-Misrata attack against Ras Lanuf is the beginning of this escalation. He described Haftar response by bombing Misrata as “the other side of the coin”.
Leon stressed that the attack against Ras Lanuf has many effects of the Libyan situation, predicting that it will provoke tribal reaction all over Libya, because of the many alliances Haftar and Misratans have with Libyan tribes who will support each side to have military privilege on the ground, as Leon puts it.
Leon said “Their land forces are likely to be bigger than Zintan or Haftar’s land forces, at least in the short term”.
Concerning Haftar’s response, Leon said that it may probably produce the opposite result and won’t deter Misratans back, and it may reinforce radicals who seek all out civil war.
Leon added in his e-mail that he asked all parties to declare unilateral ceasefire to allow international support to send experts and inspect the tanks and assess environmental damage, which Tobruk agreed on and declared three day ceasefire, but on the other side in Tripoli, Leon said they are procrastinating.
Leon concluded by saying that only huge international pressure would bring tangible results, adding he is “not optimistic and that prospects for political settlement are fading, but I understood from our last conversation that in your opinion, Haftar’s main support is unlikely to push for the political settlement”.
He mentioned that international actors (mainly the US and the EU) are willing to move to “plan B), which is classical peace conference against the back drop of international forces. Leon described this plan as “worse option” that it treats all sides as equal actors bypassing legitimate institutions, also, sitting to a round table could mean, in his opinion, to “discuss over all solution that will include political elements, the militias, and this might include some radical ones or their allies”.
Leon’s main goals in Libya
Leon mentioned in his e-mail that he is working on main goals in Libya; which are; firstly, the formation of one government in Tripoli supported by the majority of Libyans and friendly towards the HoR, he cited government’s main job is to restore economy and security.
Secondly, promote political agreement between moderates that will facilitate the presence of international monitors from the EU.
Third, break the alliance between Misratans and what he called radical Islamists, as this alliance is based on “pure power and opportunity criteria”.
Fourth, support group of influential countries that can make this strategy work, and reduce the marge of those supporting Tripoli/ Misrata.
Fifth, reinforce the HoR, as he said that almost “all my movements and proposals have been consulted with (and in many cases designed by) the HoR and Aref Al-Nayed and Mahmud Jibril”.
Leon also mentioned that his road map In Libya should include a unity government, stabilization and constitutional process.
In his e-mail, Leon stressed the importance of having political agreement as it is the only way to help Libyans articulate viable and integrated society, avoid regional spillover, as any chaotic situation in Libya would reinforce radical groups to attack regional countries specially Egypt and Italy, also, political agreement is needed to support moderate forces in Libya to break what Leon described as “dangerous alliance between radical Islamists and Misratans”.
The HoR and Al-Thinni
Leon told Al-Nahyan that he thinks that working with the HoR and members of the government would be effective more than relying on Al-Thinni, he said “my point of view is that we have more chances to build something if we work with the HoR and some members of the government (like Mohamed Dairi) than if we rely on Al-Thinni”.
Leon said that his strategy is to delegitimize the GNC, and integrating minority members of the HoR (60 members) so that the HoR legitimacy or democratic strength won’t be questioned.
Regarding Al-Thinni, Leon said that “Al-Thinni is getting in difficult position because he made many mistakes”, referring to his problems with Haftar and criticism for the HoR.
Leon mentioned that he is criticized for being biased towards the HoR, he said “as you know I am not planning to stay for a long time. I am criticized for having been too tough on the zero recognition to Tripoli strategy and I am seen as biased in favor of the HoR”.
He also stated that, from day one, he was keen on working on “plan T” referring to “Terrorism”, as he advised the US, France and the UK to work with the UAE.
Leon also said that he doesn’t think that Haftar will be able to achieve decisive victory without international support, he said “it is difficult to imagine that Haftar will be able to do in Darna what Gadhafi was not able to do, with bigger force, less international attention, and less people involved at the other side. Without a lot of international support, I have the impression that it is going to be very difficult”.
He mentioned that it is hard to convince the international actors to provide huge military support to Haftar, because “the impression of most of them is that no one can prevail in Libya, so sending weapons can only make the war longer but not easier and shrink the interest on a political settlement. This is what most analysts and experts believe”.
Leon added, he is working on the political plan that will include every one, and added that Tripoli will probably not accept it, which will be a test for Misratans politicians and militias.
He said that “the government should be very neutral, the GNC should disappear and the HoR should be reinforced through an internal agreement. But if Tobruk and Haftar don’t cooperate, it won’t be possible to push Tripoli to accept the dialogue”.