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Libya - Foreign Relations

Libya is in a complicated and sensitive period, following a bloody months-long conflict and the fall of a dictatorship that left the country without any institutions worth mentioning. The issue now was to create new authority, new institutions and, new leadership. This is true for the Ministry of Foreign Relations, and the country as a whole. Two years after the fall of Gadhafi, Libya has no discernable foreign policy beyond hoping for the kindness of strangers. Whenever the Prime Minister or government ministers head abroad at present, there are requests for help. International support to defence sector reform in Libya aims to assist national efforts to identify the main risks and threats facing Libya, and to confirm the principal military tasks, doctrine and vision, civilian democratic oversight, overall command and control issues, and basic structure of the armed forces.

At the September 19, 2011 United Nations meeting on Libya's future, interim Libyan leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil called for reconciliation in rebuilding the country. The 60-nation high-level “Friends of Libya” meeting amounted to a victory celebration for the interim government which won official recognition from the U.N. General Assembly less than a week earlier. President Barack Obama Tuesday pledged U.S. support for the new Libyan government and appealed to Moammar Gadhafi loyalists still fighting the transitional administration to lay down their arms and “join the new Libya.”

On 17 December 2012, a senior officials meeting was held in London, convened jointly by the Governments of Libya and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with United Nations support and the participation of Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, as well as the European Union, to assist Libya in its efforts to strengthen the rule of law and reform its security sector. follow-up ministerial-level meeting was held on 12 February 2013 in Paris at which international partners reaffirmed their commitment to assist the Libyan Government in accordance with Libyan priorities.

In early December 2012, Prime Minister Zeidan led a high-level delegation to Algeria, Chad, Niger and the Sudan to discuss border security and bilateral relations. The visit resulted in an agreement among Chad, Libya, Niger and the Sudan to form a joint security committee that would look into putting mechanisms in place to address issues related to border security. On 12 January, the Prime Minister met with his Algerian and Tunisian counterparts in Ghadames, who agreed to joint measures to combat organized crime and cross-border smuggling.

The United Nations Support Mission for Libya is a special political mission established in 2011 by the UN Security Council in its Resolution 2009 (September 2011) at the request of the Libyan authorities following six months of armed conflict to support the country's new transitional authorities in their post-conflict efforts. All UN activities for the Libyan people are guided by the principle of national ownership. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), under the leadership of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), supported by a Deputy SRSG, was mandated for an initial period of three months and extended for another three months thereafter. The Security Council, in its Resolution 2022 (December 2011), expanded the Mission’s mandate. The mandate was further modified when the Security Council extended the Mission for 12 more months in Resolution 2040 (12 March 2012). On 14 March 2013, Resolution 2095 extended the mandate for an additional 12 months.

The General Assembly of the United Nations expressed on 15 May 2013 its grave concern at the continuing escalation of violence in Syria, and adopted a resolution emphasizing the call to intensify efforts to launch a process of political transition, which represents the best opportunity to resolve the situation peacefully. The resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which was adopted by 107 votes to 12 with 59 abstentions, reflected the extent of the UN anger against “the increasing number of deaths” in Syria. The resolution also condemns strongly the increasing use of the heavy weaponry by the Syrian government, and the continuation of “serious systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Within Libya there is controvery over the perceived, as well as the desired, role of the United Nations in Libya. This was all the more necessary in view of an unanticipated controversy around this role following the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2095 (2013). The said controversy surfaced in concomitance with the national political crisis. There were voices that casted doubts on the intentions of the international community and attributed to the United Nations an interventionist design. The fact that resolution 2095 was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter raised increased misunderstanding, suspicion and disquiet. On the other extreme of the political spectrum, there were voices calling for a more robust UN presence and reminding Libyans, or warning them, that Chapter VII indicated the gravity of international concern. In such a context, there was a need to concentrate efforts on dispelling misperceptions and false expectations fueled by a formidable flow of disinformation.

Following four decades of despotic rule in Libya, it was evident that preconceived ideas about political transition were more likely to be a “recipe for disappointment, if not failure”, as demand for a national dialogue to address the faltering process grew across the political spectrum, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country told the Security Council 16 September 2013.

The Libyan people are moving towards building their own modern democratic State, the country’s Prime Minister today told the United Nations General Assembly 25 September 2013, while also urging continued international support, particularly from neighboring countries. He added that Libya is also forging positive partnership with the international community, and working to promote peace “as stipulated by the United Nations Charter and international laws and norms.” The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) is performing a “distinguished effort” to provide technical advice, raise awareness and build capacity in order to advance democratization, Mr. Zeidan said.

Turning to his neighbor countries, the Prime Minister called for the surrender of “wanted elements of the former regime” and who continue to engage in criminal activities which threaten Libya’s security and stability. Among other factors threatening security of the country, Mr. Zeidan mentioned smuggling of narcotic drugs and mind-numbing substances, illegal immigration, and arms smuggling. The Prime Minister also highlighted the importance of recovering funds looted from the treasury of the Libyan State and smuggled abroad. “From this podium, I urgently reiterate the call already sent to all States to cooperate with us and help us in detecting and recovering of those funds.”

General Khalifa Haftar visited Moscow in November 2016, holding high-profile meetings with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoygu, as well as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Russia is interested in making its footprint in the south Mediterranean, as well as expanding its ongoing realpolitik in the Middle East with its support of the Bashar al Assad-Iran-Hezbollah axis, as well as former field marshal and current president of Egypt, Abdelfattah al Sisi.




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