Libya: When an Agreement Isn’t
In their determination to produce a Libyan peace agreement, western governments appear willing to sacrifice both peace and agreement to accomplish their goal.
Even though the backers and authors of the recent UN-crafted plan have declared otherwise, there is no agreement in Libya on their proposal. In fact, the General National Council (GNC)’s established government in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, effectively controls about 85% of the land, population and resources, and has not approved the UN plan.
That didn’t stop the United States Embassy in Libya from declaring that they, “welcome today’s agreement” and that, “This final draft is a Libyan agreement, negotiated by Libyans on behalf of the Libyan people.” Which is true in every way except for the basic meaning of the words “agreement” and “on behalf of the Libyan people.” The declaration also ignores the fact that negotiators from both sides never even met to discuss or negotiate the proposal.
The UN Envoy himself has said that a new national government will be formed with or without the consent of the GNC and every possible form of political, military and economic threat has been applied to those who questioned the UN draft.
Elected members of the Parliament and of the GNC have been threatened with UN sanctions; the French Ambassador to Libya threatened the freezing of assets of the Libyan Central bank; the IMF Chief has done an about-face on the long-standing internationally accepted policy of recognizing an independent Libyan Central Bank, and so on.
Such pressure to approve a UN plan, and the pressure from outside the country directed at elected representatives of the Libyan people, is hardly “by Libyans on behalf of the Libyan people.”
To the contrary, it seems that the rush and pressure to declare a solution in Libya have more to do with western needs to wrap a ribbon around a “solution” and go home than actually solving anything. They want a national accord – even at the clear cost of more Libyan discord. For them, forming a government has become the end instead of the means. Why else would the US and other nations stand behind an agreement about which there has been no agreement? Such obvious and clear lack of agreement in this “agreement” dooms it to near certain failure.
When it does fail, it will empower deep cynics – those in the region who already distrust western motives and promises. Many of them are already arguing that those who twisted out this UN plan have given up on Libya and are only interested in boosting their images with their western colleagues by being able to declare, “We fixed it. The Libyans, however, messed it up.”
And it will be messed up. The obvious coming chaos and apparent “victorious” departure of western interest in a real solution has emboldened those deposed in the revolution. Already, many of Kaddafi’s lieutenants (including some with American blood on their hands) joined the government in Tobruk which has agreed to the UN plan.
The possibility of more bloodshed and a return to power of former despots is not only disastrous for the future of Libya but a betrayal of the ideals of the Libyan revolution and the sacrifices of those who gave their life and treasure to bring democracy and freedom to the nation. Those brave patriots who helped topple a dictator expected – and deserve – more than drive-by diplomacy and arm twisting.
A sound political agreement based on fairness, even handedness, and respect for the law and constitution is the only guarantee for long term stability. An “agreement” without agreement, forged by in the fires of force and threat, offers nothing beyond a western diplomatic victory lap. It is time for a second look at this short term policy of agreement by outside fiat.
It’s also time for western governments to rediscover their own ideals. If freedom, democracy, and the rule of law are as universal as the west claims, then others should not be deprived of them in the name of any interest – especially a need to declare victory.
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