The ‘Other’ Negotiations: UN progress in Libya and the West’s Next Move
The Libya Negotiations have been largely missed by the media overshadowed by their Iranian and Greek counterparts. And yet they are quite significant for Western interests and regional stability. In a recent piece peace in the FT, Richard Northern and I argue that now is the time to roll out the incentives and disincentives to motivate the local actors and regional players.
After months of negotiations and missed deadlines, Bernardino León, the UN envoy to Libya, finally secured the support of a broad range of political actors for his plans for a national unity government, a ceasefire and a new political framework in Libya. And yet, due to factors beyond his control, his timing was slightly off. He missed his declared deadline of the start of Ramadan by more than three weeks. More crucially, by choosing to put the ink to the deal on July 11 – the same weekend that negotiations with Iran were culminating in Vienna and European governments were trying reach a last minute agreement on a Greek bailout – he ensured that the Libya pact got even less traction in the international media than it did on the ground. This lack of international attention may turn out to be a key failing if it presages reluctance in the international community to step up to the plate and support the national unity government in a concrete way……
Third, and most controversially, a peace-keeping force will likely be needed to protect national infrastructure and institutions and to supervise the disarming of militias, until an effective national army and police force can be formed and deployed. This carries enormous risks. An exclusively European or US military presence in Libya would be provocative and vulnerable. It would certainly encourage IS and other jihadists to conduct spectacular attacks in Libya and might play to their recruitment narrative. The answer, therefore, is to use forces drawn from neutral countries in the region, perhaps under Arab League or African Union auspices, supplemented by elite units most likely drawn from Italy and France, and backed up by offshore logistical support from western powers.
To read the whole piece click here.