The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) Tuesday adopted a resolution demanding that all countries enforce the widely violated U.N. arms embargo on Libya and withdraw all mercenaries from the North African nation.
The council also called for political talks and a cease-fire in the war, stressing that no military solution would be considered an option. The UNSC also asked U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a special envoy to broker peace in the war-torn country, although Russia and China abstained from voting on the resolution, which also extended the U.N. mission in the country until next September.
In the years since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has been divided between two rival administrations based in the country’s east and west.
The resolution’s approval follows a recent report by U.N. experts monitoring sanctions on Libya that accused its warring parties and their international backers of violating the arms embargo, saying it remained “totally ineffective.”
The job of former U.N. special representative Ghassan Salame, who resigned in March, has been split into two, as the United States demanded, putting a special envoy in charge of the U.N. Security Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to focus on mediating with Libyan and international parties to end the conflict, with a coordinator in charge of day-to-day operations.
The U.S. demand requires a replacement for Salame, while the resolution asks Guterres to appoint a special envoy “without delay.” One possibility is the U.N.'s current top Middle East envoy, Nikolay Mladenov, a former Bulgarian foreign minister, U.N. diplomats told The Associated Press (AP), speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the confidential nature of discussions.
The Government of National Accord (GNA) recently thwarted a monthslong offensive by eastern-based forces under putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar, driving his forces from the outskirts of the capital and other western towns.
Haftar is supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Russia, France and Egypt, while the GNA is supported by the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar and by Turkey.
The UNSC resolution comes two weeks after a U.N. report emerged showing Russia stepping up its backing for the putschist general. U.N. experts said 11 companies violated the arms embargo, including the Wagner Group, a private Russian security company that in May provided between 800 and 1,200 mercenaries to support Haftar’s forces.
The council requested that Guterres assess the steps required to reach a lasting cease-fire and the possible role of the UNSMIL “in providing scalable cease-fire support," alongside a report within 60 days on proposals for monitoring a cease-fire under U.N. auspices.
European Union members of the UNSC – Belgium, Estonia, France and Germany – as well as Ireland which will join the council on Jan. 1, said the resolution’s adoption “is important and comes at a moment of cautious optimism for Libya.”
Interim British Ambassador to the U.N. Jonathan Allen also spoke of "positive noises" from Libya, before the council meeting, "particularly out of both sides, calling for a cease-fire at the same time in a coordinated way."
They pointed to statements by Fayez Sarraj, head of the GNA in Tripoli, on Aug. 21 calling for a cease-fire across the country and demilitarizing the strategic city of Sirte which was supported by Aguila Saleh Issa, speaker of the rival eastern-based House of Representatives, calling them “encouraging first steps to overcome the stalemate."
However, despite the calls for a cease-fire, Haftar's militia has continued to violate peace terms and threatened the security of the country by targeting Libyan Army positions with multiple Grad missiles – often immediately after calls for a path to peace.
The resolution also condemned “the forced shutdown of oil facilities,” reiterating that “Libya’s oil resources are for the benefit of all Libyans."
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