For the third time in one month, the members of the Libyan 5+5 Joint Military Committee (JMC) held a meeting that led to a number of positive indicators about the continuation of the remarkable state of peace and stability that Libya has been experiencing in the past two years, especially with regard to not returning to resorting to arms to resolve the authoritarian conflict between East and West.
The venue for the new negotiating session between the military parties was the first positive indicator of the progress achieved by JMC in its negotiations, as this round was held for the first time in the city of Benghazi, which has the headquarters of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, with whom negotiation was rejected by the military leaders in Tripoli.
In its closing statement after the meeting it held in Benghazi, JMC affirmed “full commitment to everything that resulted from the dialogue between JMC and the military and security leaders in Tunis and Tripoli meetings.”
The joint committee includes five members of the military institution in western Libya, likewise from the army forces in the east led by Khalifa Haftar, and has been holding dialogues inside and outside the country for two years to unify the army under the auspices of the United Nations in implementation of the ceasefire agreement signed in October 2020 in Geneva.
According to the statement, this round discussed for the first time the file of elections, their security, and the support of the military parties for a smooth political transition, as the committee confirmed that the participants in the negotiating session agreed to “enhance confidence between military and security leaders to support the political process, and move forward in providing a suitable environment for free and fair elections during the current year, and the acceptance of their results from all parties.
The Military Committee expressed “its readiness to provide all forms of support to secure the elections in all its stages, and urge support for the efforts of the Military Committee and its Libyan Communication Committee to remove mercenaries and foreign fighters.”
It indicated that it was agreed to “start practical measures to address the problems of the displaced and the missing and ensure their safe return, in coordination between the concerned security services in the various regions, exchange information about detainees held by both sides, and start taking practical steps to release them,” which is one of the sensitive issues over which major differences arose between the Libyan parties in the past years.
Code of Conduct
The Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Abdoulaye Bathily, praised the position of the Military Committee on the upcoming elections and its pledge to secure them and accept their results, and expressed his hope that the military and security meeting of the leaders of the western and eastern regions will be able to move forward towards adopting a code of honor that outlines the features of a favorable political environment, which adheres to by securing free and fair elections in 2023 and endorsing their results.
Bathily said the continuation of these meetings will contribute to providing a solid basis for a political settlement that will culminate in resolving the crisis, by creating an environment conducive to holding comprehensive, free and fair elections in 2023.
The UN envoy demanded that the Military Committee be spared the consequences of the political conflict, after the gains it had achieved, stressing that these meetings should not deviate from their course because of the polarizing rhetoric that some tend to promote.
He pointed out that everyone knows that fully resolving the Libyan crisis and putting an end to the current political stalemate requires time and patience, stressing the need to start a new era of comprehensive national reconciliation in all regions of Libya.
Bathily called for ensuring that the military and security authorities provide a conducive security environment preceding and accompanying the elections and beyond, and committing to accepting their results, provided that this is clearly demonstrated.
For his part, the head of the army delegation in Benghazi in the Joint Military Committee, Lieutenant General Mrajaa al-Amami, stressed the importance of consolidating the current gains in the military track, saying that he “hopes that the meetings will continue in any part of Libya.”
Al-Amami said, during his speech at the meeting of the security and military leaders in Benghazi, in the presence of the UN envoy, that “the continuation of the meetings of the Military Committee is important in order to overcome difficulties, solve all problems, and reach free and fair elections.”
Many analysts and those interested in the Libyan political affairs believed that the new UN envoy to Libya, Bathily, made a successful start in his plan to solve the Libyan crisis, by focusing on the security and military track, unlike the seven envoys who preceded him in the position during the past ten years, who focused on the political file, although the core of the Libyan conflict is security, not political.
In the context, the researcher in security affairs, Naji Al-Qadari, said, “The moves that the UN envoy to Libya is taking are actual measures to move the file of withdrawing mercenaries and foreign forces from Libya, which are steps that none of the representatives of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Libya have taken before.”
Al-Qadari considered that “what Bathily is doing is exactly the right thing, as he did not hold the Libyans alone responsible for this file, but rather he involves the source countries to which those mercenaries belong in resolving the issue.”
Al-Qadari continued, “Bathily affirms on every occasion or international or regional meeting that the presence of mercenaries in Libya poses a threat to the entire region and its security, which makes international assistance in expelling them effective.”
He stressed that “Bathily’s movements in this file are directly supported by the Egyptian authorities, because Cairo is very interested in withdrawing foreign fighters from Libya, as it is a neighboring country, and stability in its western neighbor represents a matter of national security for it, so Bathily conducts all meetings to resolve the mercenary file in Egypt, which pushes in the right direction to resolve.”
A member of the High Council of State, Ahmed Abu Briq, welcomed the meeting of the military leaders in the city of Benghazi, and said, “We appeal to their hands to support the political solution.”
Abu Briq stressed that “the importance of what the military committee is achieving lies in the fact that the crisis in Libya is primarily a security one, and if these meetings succeed, it will pave the way for its complete solution.”
He pointed out that “foreign interference must be kept away from these meetings in order to produce a solution with Libyan hands.”
Meanwhile, a statement by the Armed Brigades Gathering in the Libyan West disturbed the positive atmosphere and the state of optimism that overwhelmed the Libyan scene, due to the great progress in the military track. This statement by the “Libyan Revolutionaries Union” in Tripoli, which is the largest military bloc of armed militias in the capital and the neighboring cities, rejected the 13th constitutional amendment issued by the House of Representatives, threatening to use force to confront it and obstruct its implementation.
The Union expressed its rejection of what it described as “the militarization of the state and the assumption of sovereign positions in the state by dual nationals and those whose hands are stained with the blood of Libyans.”
It affirmed its intention to “move forward to achieve the revolution’s goals of a peaceful transfer of power and the unity of the Libyan soil,” adding that “getting out of this political and security chaos is our responsibility to put things right.”
The statement indicated that “all the forces affiliated with the Libyan Revolutionaries Union are the strong shield of national security and are ready to defend the capabilities of the Libyan people.”
Reported by: Zayed Hadiya – Independent Arabia
Translated by: The Libya Update