UN Security Council backs Libya peace deal, foreign airstrikes ‘not planned’

Libya Channel

The UN Security Council on Wednesday officially backed a UN-brokered deal to form a unity government in Libya, in a resolution which hopes to empower the joint body and end an 18-month civil war.

Libya’s UN Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi – who spoke shortly before the signing – said the move was not a precursor to the new Libyan authority requesting Western military intervention. Libya had no plans to order foreign air strikes against the Islamic State group anytime soon, if at all, he added, though the resolution did ask for help trying to defeat IS militants.

“No one is thinking about requesting foreign intervention at the moment,” Dabbashi said before the vote.

“We are willing to fight IS ourselves,” he added.

The resolution, drafted by Britain and unanimously adopted during the vote, said Libya’s newly-announced joint government would be the sole representative for the country. It also asked countries to “cease support to and official contact with” others who claim to be the legitimate authority but are not part of the new deal.

It is the UN’s latest attempt at building a consensus government, whose makeup is detailed in a peace deal signed in Morocco last Thursday.

They hope it will end an 18-month civil war, which erupted when armed coalition Libya Dawn swept control of Tripoli last summer setting up a rival government and parliament, forcing the existing authorities to operate from the east of the country.

Wednesday’s resolution called for the Presidency Council – outlined in the peace deal – to form a Tripoli-based national unity government within 30 days. It also urged the council to finalize security arrangements to bring stability to Libya and called on UN member states to “respond urgently to requests for assistance” form the Libyan side

But it is still unclear if this will be possible.

The speakers of the rival parliaments – the internationally-recognized House of Representatives and Dawn’s General National Congress – have rejected the deal. Meanwhile multiple armed groups remain active in the country.

It has had the endorsement of some 24 Libyan municipalities – including the western cities of Sabratha, Zintan and Misrata as well as Bayda in the east – who on Monday signed the agreement in Tunis.

However a total of 99 mayors were expected to turn up, meaning 75 signatories were missing including the mayors of Tobruk – where the HoR is currently based – and the capital. In the whole of the east only two city representatives – Ajdabiya and Bayda – signed.

“It’s very important that municipalities become part of the Libyan political agreement,” UN Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler said on Monday, emphasizing the need for the boycotters to join the deal.

“People need clean water and need electricity and a strong government can deliver this. That’s why I asked the mayors to go back to their municipalities and to tell their people to support the agreement in order to have electricity, to have water, to have functional hospitals and schools,” he added.

On Wednesday Kobler called on Libyan political actors to “redouble efforts” to swiftly implement the peace deal.

“The door is wide open for all those who still oppose the Libyan Political Agreement. All Libyans should play a role in the restarted Libyan transition. The opportunity to end the political and security crisis in Libya is now,” he said, welcoming the UN Security Council’s resolution.

Those close to the newly-announced prime minister Faiez Serraj – a former HoR lawmaker  – acknowledged they had tough challenges up ahead. Even UN diplomats privately admitted the joint body was in a precarious position. The HoR has yet to officially vote on the government, meanwhile hardliners in Libya Dawn have publicly opposed the deal.

“This is the Libyan peoples’ job to get people to rally behind us,” one official – who asked not to be identified – told Libya Channel. “Libyans want one functioning government – if some people choose to ruin that then it will be Libyan peoples’ responsibility to fix this,” he added.

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