Further Discrediting of UN Process and Jadhran’s Eclipse
The UN-backed Presidential Council of the GNA decided that its 14 February ministerial list could become Libya’s legitimate governing body even without HoR parliamentary approval. They based their rationale on the supposed endorsement of this ministerial list by 100 parliamentary members on 20 February. This bold initiative has led to the defection of several members of influential political parties from the UN-convened dialogue group. On 13 March the defectors condemned the PC initiative as an attempt to skirt HoR endorsement. This development represents a further discrediting of the UN mediation in the Eastern Region where certain Libyan actors are viewed as manipulating the peace process to prop-up their own partners and interests.
Sanctions and Arms Embargo Violations
This development follows France’s 11 March threat to impose EU sanctions on dissenting senior Libyan leaders–including the HoR president Ageela Saleh–which also had a divisive effect bolstering the legitimacy of actors rejecting the LPA. Libyan actors are not only ignoring the unity government process, it turns out they have been involved in widespread arms smuggling in contravention to the UN embargo. The UAE has been caught transporting arms to Tubruq, while Turkey and Sudan have been implicated in arms shipments to Misrata . According to the UN and journalistic outlets, shipping firms with close affiliation to rogue states, such as the Ukraine are involved in this traffic. Reports of these flagrant violations of the Libyan arms embargo paint a cynical picture of international and regional support for the UN mediated solution for Libya.
The Weakening of Jadhran
Federalist fighters in Zeuitina have been caught switching allegiances from Jadhran to Haftar. This confirms a long perceived weakening of Jadhran’s influence among the PFG forces (which he nominally heads). After Jadhran’s conspicuous absence following LNA gains in Benghazi and Ajdabiya over the last three weeks he apologised to the Libyan people on local Ajdabiya radio for the damage he caused to the economy through his oil blockade since 2014.
Increased pressure by the international community to salvage the UN process without amending its flawed approach is likely to enflame leaderless separatist sentiment as a fracturing of all Libyan political movements other than the LNA is underway. In fact, the HoR may splint into two camps — an anti-GNA Tubruq camp and a pro-GNA camp meeting elsewhere in Libya.