CAIRO – 1 May 2018: The International Quartet Committee on Libya praised on Monday the important security dialogue facilitated by the Egyptian government amid its continuing diplomatic efforts to settle the Libyan crisis.
The Quartet held its fourth meeting at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo to discuss the developments in Libya since its last meeting in New York in September 2017 and reviewed the coming steps for the country’s democratic transition.
The meeting was chaired by Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary general of the Arab League, and involved former president of Burundi Pierre Buyoya, the African Union high representative for Mali and the Sahel; Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy and the special representative of the UN secretary-general and head of the UN support mission in Libya Ghassan Salame.
The Quartet welcomed the decision by the Libyan Supreme Court that effectively validated the decision taken by the Constitutional Drafting Assembly in July 2017, to establish a broad-based consensus among all Libyan stakeholders towards holding a constitutional referendum.
The Quartet further emphasized the importance of holding parliamentary and presidential elections in accordance with the requisite legal framework that must be enacted and approved for this purpose, including a constitutional framework and electoral law. They recognized the important preparatory efforts of the Presidency Council and the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC), in particular through the registration of eligible voters, and welcomed the high number of new registered voters in this process. The Quartet noted that there are plans to hold elections before the end of the year in line with the UN Action Plan for Libya.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Ghassan Salamé - REUTERS
The Quartet expressed its willingness to coordinate its efforts to provide support, including through the deployment of electoral assistance or observer missions, to allow for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
The Quartet emphasized the continued need to comprehensively address the security challenges posed by the proliferation of weapons, by armed groups outside of State authority, and by smuggling and trafficking networks. They stressed the importance of a united Libyan military operating under civilian oversight and a unified chain of command that is capable of consolidating peace and security throughout the country.
Since the ouster of Libyan long-time leader Muammar Ghaddafi more than six years ago, the war-torn country draws wide international and regional attention, causing a serious threat on the national security of North Africa and Europe.
Libya, which is struggling to get through the critical political situation that it has been experiencing since 2011, is not only trying to unify its army, but is longing to revive its political functions by conducting presidential and legislative elections.
Egypt has hosted several meetings to bring the Libyan conflicted factions to the negotiations table to resolve the Libyan crisis and amend the Skhirat agreement, which aims at ending Libya’s civil war.
The major obstacle in the face of any international or Arab participation in ending the crisis in Libya is the lack of a Libyan partner that would support any involvement. Since 2014, there are two major factions on the ground, one led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army, who now controls the eastern side of Libya and works in cooperation with the government of the House of Representatives, known as the Tobruk government. The other is led by Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord.
Therefore, there is no official side recognized by all parties in Libya, but there are two opposing factions, roughly equivalent in terms of power, competing for legitimacy. Nonetheless, neither side appears to be able to tip the scales of this conflict in its favor.
Major Libyan military factions convened in Cairo on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 for negotiations aimed at consolidating the Libyan army - press photo
Egyptian diplomatic efforts in Libya
Policymakers in Egypt believe that Libya should have a unified body representing all sides in the war-torn country. However, this requires the elimination of terrorist groups that are plaguing the country and standing in the way of any regional or international attempt for reconciliation.
The Egyptian state is aware that any intervention in Libyan affairs will enrage the Libyan people due to religious and national sensitivities.
Therefore, Egypt called for a meeting in August 2014 to discuss the formation of a coalition force with the United States and other Arab nations. The final recommendation of the meeting, held in Cairo, did not suggest the formation of any Arab or international military intervention in Libya, but it called for the immediate cessation of all armed operations in order to support the political process in Libya.
In December 2015, the Skhirat Agreement was signed by major parties in the Libyan conflict under the supervision of UN envoy Martin Kobler in the city of Skhirat, Morocco. The agreement recommends a peaceful transition of power and the establishment of a national unity government. However, the agreement failed to achieve the desired stability on the ground because it lacked consensus.
Egypt’s officials held several meetings with their Libyan counterparts as well as members in Tobruk’s House of Representatives to resolve the Libyan crisis and amend the Skhirat agreement.
In December 2016, Cairo hosted a conference attended by Libyan officials and representatives from the country’s numerous factions, where they issued five proposed amendments to the agreement. The conference concluded with a decision to amend the eighth article of the Skhirat agreement that outlined the jurisdiction of the Libyan army chief commander.
Negotiations to unify the Libyan military were held as a part of Egypt’s initiative that kicked off in July 2017 to unify the military institutions. The first meeting aimed at creating a framework for the initiative while the second and third meetings were held in Cairo from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2, 2017, to follow up on the results of the first meeting.
The fourth meeting was held from Dec. 6 to 9 to restructure the Libyan army.
Egyptian Officials met again with Libyan military forces in Cairo on Feb. 21, 2018 in order to continue the discussions. The meetings delved into the methods used to unify and restructure the Libyan military forces after a long split that resulted from the outbreak of the Libyan revolution in 2011.
The sixth round of the negotiation on the unification of the Libyan military establishment was held on March 23 in Cairo.
In a press release issued at the conclusion of the meeting, the Libyan factions convening in Cairo agreed to resume with their talks in an attempt to complete the establishment of the four technical committees that the Libyan factions agreed on forming during the previous rounds of talks as an initial step towards the consolidation of the military establishment of Libya.
The meeting also concluded with reaffirming the participant’s keenness to move ahead with unifying the Libyan army whose top priority is to maintain and preserve Libya’s national security and peace and stand firm against foreign interferences.
Members of the Security Council welcomed recent efforts to strengthen an inclusive political dialogue among all Libyans, supported by Libya’s neighbors, international partners and regional organizations within the framework of the Libyan Political Agreement endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2259.