By Sami Zaptia.
London, 28 February 2020:
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) strongly condemned the continuing Tripoli truce violations yesterday. The truce had been declared on 12 January but has been much violated since.
UNSMIL was particularly irked by the most recent repeated bombings over the last three days of Mitiga airport, the capital’s only functioning airport. The airport closed for a few hours and then reopened – in a now well-rehearsed routine practiced over the years since the 2011 revolution and particularly since the Khalifa Hafter attack to take Tripoli since 4 April 2019.
UNSMIL said that Mitiga is a vital and important outlet for thousands of Libyans in the greater Tripoli area. It is also a vital entry and exit point for all the international diplomats, NGO’s and UN agencies.
The truce violations are particularly embarrassing for the UNSMIL as they come about as it is amid brokering its beleaguered ‘‘political track’’ Libya talks in Geneva.
In its condemnation statement, UNSMIL said that these truce violations come as Libyans and the United Nations are working hard across the three tracks to end the fighting, find final solutions to the Libyan crisis and end the suffering of the Libyan people, which is worsening every day.
The beleaguered UNSMIL-brokered Libya political track negotiations held in Geneva went ahead Wednesday despite being boycotted by the internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk, the internationally recognized High State Council (HSC) in Tripoli and the breakaway HoR inTripoli.
There were supposed to be 13 delegates from the HoR and 13 from the Hight State Council. The other 14 ‘‘independents’’ had been selected by UNSMIL.
Lists have appeared on social media of the independent delegates. But no official list has been published by UNSMIL. This lack of information and of transparency was used by those opposed to negotiations to undermine the talks.
It will be recalled that the second round of the Libya 5+5 Joint Military Commission talks ended on 23 January. UNSMIL had issued an encouraging statement about the talks, suggesting that they had been positive and that there was underlying agreement between the two sides.
However, sources from both sides indicated that there was no agreement on any key matters at the talks, and that there was no reason for Ghassan Salame’s optimism.
Libyan media had reported that the Tripoli side were still insisting that the Khalifa Hafter Libyan National Army (LNA) withdrew to the positions it had before 4 April 2019. The LNA had so far refused to agree to this and counter-demanded to the Tripoli side that: the LNA remain in control of the 4 camps it holds in Tripoli; Tripoli ‘‘militias’’ be disarmed and disbanded (DDR); the so-called Turkish / Syria mercenaries be withdrawn; and the so-called criminals in Tripoli be arrested and put on trial.