Libya Conflict-Political Talks

US and Italy Call Meeting to Push Libya Peace Deal, Fear of ISIS Serious

US and Italy Call Meeting to Push Libya Peace Deal, Fear of ISIS Serious
Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:43:49

Italy and the United States will hold talks on Sunday to press Libya’s divided political factions to quickly sign up to a United Nations-backed peace agreement.

Western capitals fear that unless Libya swiftly forms a united government ISIS radicals will strengthen their grip on their new coastal territory.

And, without a recognized central authority and amid ongoing faction-fighting, Libya could once again become a major source of refugees and migrants headed for Europe.

But critics of the proposed deal, which could be signed by Wednesday, warn that rushing the political reconciliation process might only deepen Libya’s political fault lines.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni will co-chair the talks with US counterpart John Kerry, who was to fly in to Rome on Sunday from the UN climate summit in Paris.

“We have to demonstrate that the action of governments and diplomacy can be faster and more effective than the threat of terrorism which we face here,” Gentiloni said.

“We cannot allow it to develop and we have to back our ability to stop it with a negotiated approach involving the Libyan parties,” he added, at a conference Friday.

After Libyan political representatives had agreed to sign a version of the UN-mediated deal on Wednesday, he said, the Rome talks are supposed to show international solidarity.

The talks will first bring together ministers from the region and beyond, then they will be joined by about a dozen Libyans representing rival groups.

This, he said, would “provide framing and momentum for the signing ceremony” to take place in Morocco.

The United Nations deal has the benefit of unifying the negotiation process and has the support of the regional powers supporting rival factions in Libya’s conflicts.

For these reasons, US and Italian officials, believe it is time to end the division of Libya between two rival governments and a patchwork of warring factions.

But others warn forcing Libyans into a foreign-mediated process could strengthen existing resistance to the pact and undermine future peace efforts.

Former Italian foreign minister Emma Bonino and the head of International Crisis Group Jean-Marie Guehenno called the signing “an irresponsible bet.”

Writing in Politico, the pair said it is “wishful thinking” to believe a majority of Libyans will back a relative unknown, Faez Serraj, as head of a sole national authority.

“It is highly likely that security conditions will prevent Serraj and his colleagues from taking office in Tripoli,” they warned.

“This means they will have no control over state administration, including the pivotal central bank. It could trigger renewed fighting for control of the capital.”

And any attempt, whether failed or successful, to restore authority to Tripoli could feed separatist rumblings in eastern Libya, they warn; AFP reported.

S/SH

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