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A summit pantomine

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Let’s separate facts from fiction when analysing what happened during the Paris Libya Summit on July 25.

The Summit was a veritable pantomime portraying the warring parties in Libya as ‘united’. This, for me, was all optics, a charade.

Firstly, there is nowhere reported evidence of a ceasefire whatsoever despite President Macron’s statements to the contrary.

In fact, over the weekend of July 29 and 30 in the eastern Libyan city of al-Bayda, armed protesters forced their way into the Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) headquarters to challenge the draft constitution they feared would both unfairly favour the government in Tripoli and also disqualify Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar from participation in the 2018 general and presidential elections – though I am told Haftar has not confirmed his intention to enter the political arena.

By Monday evening, July 31, multiple news sources from around the world had confirmed revisions to the draft constitution would not prevent Haftar from seeking Libya’s highest office; however, my interpretation is that the draft constitution must first successfully pass through the Libyan House of Representatives, which is scheduled for later this month.

Considering the backdrop spectacle in Paris, with Macron acting as compère. Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and Field Marshall Haftar’s joint-declaration via a press conference called for two main things. One, a “conditional” nationwide ceasefire, with the exception of ‘counter-terrorism’ operations, and, two, early general and presidential elections in 2018.

However, almost immediately following the Paris Summit, two equally important Middle Eastern news outlets wrote seemingly showing a ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ from Haftar.

In the Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat, Haftar offered an important carrot by expressing a willingness to work with ‘moderate’ members of the Muslim Brotherhood, while he continued to emphasise his commitment to fight all extremists, including extremist members of the Brotherhood.

In another, Al-Awsat News, Haftar was quoted explaining that not everything in the Paris agreement could be implemented, adding that he, Haftar, must continue to use force. I believe he means a ‘stick’, against whomever he considers terrorists.

Et voilà... this all is the proof that no ceasefire occurred. To boot there have been no ceasefire reports in any newspapers, quite the contrary.

The Paris Summit was a farce, a charade, a lie and a setback towards peace in Libya

On a controversial issue, namely the release of Gaddafi’s son from imprisonment amid calls for his attendance at the ICC in the Hague, the Alwasat Arabic newspaper wrote that Haftar said: “We welcome Saif Gaddafi’s participation in a political process. He is free and in a safe location.”

Meanwhile Belhaj, former founder of the LIFG, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, was quoted in the French publication Jeune Afrique: “Macron is mistaken in asserting that Haftar and Serraj embody legitimacy.”

No one can seriously consider Belhadj a legitimate contender for power in Libya as a former world-renowned terrorist and a well-known friend of Bin Laden.

In juxtaposition to the theatrics of Paris, I believe the reality on the ground in Libya is the growing popularity of not only Haftar but also of Saif, the son of Libya’s late ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

The Paris Summit was a continuation of the past four years of failed United Nations ‘talks’ and can only be described as a Western conspiracy against the people and country of Libya.

Embarrassing evidence of this is the fact that a joint declaration, a 10-point document of what Hafter and Serraj agreed to in Paris was e-mailed to French media, by mistake, that morning, before the talks even started!

The French government office that mistakenly leaked it to the media in advance then advised all media that this was only a working document and the agreement would be different; but the agreement was not different; it was exactly the same.

Ergo, it was written before either man (Serraj or Haftar) set foot in Paris.

That’s why along with subsequent utterances from both Serraj and Hafter, I have called and still call the Paris Summit a farce, a charade, and a lie.

The LNA’s spokesperson on the morning of August 2 said: “Serraj’s invitation to Italy’s navy into Libya’s territorial waters is reckless and endangers Libya’s national security.”

Hafter, on August 2, ordered the LNA navy to actually destroy Italian warships if they sailed into Libyan waters. It was announced by the Media Office of LNA written on their official Facebook page.

The call of Haftar came after the Tobruk-based House of Representatives announced in its statement their rejection of the UN-appointed PM Fayez Serraj invitation to Italy.

“We reject Serraj’s request to Italy which can violate the sovereignty of Libya under the pretext of fighting illegal immigration,” the spokesman of the House of Representatives, Abdullah Belheeq said.

Meanwhile, despite this, on August 2, the Italian parliament voted for sending a naval mission to Libya’s waters. This inspired the first public response from Saif Gaddafi, since his release from Zintan, accusing through an Italian newspaper that Italy “yearned for its fascist past”.

That’s why, along with subsequent statements from both Serraj and Hafter, the Paris Summit was a farce, a charade, a lie and a set back towards peace in Libya.

So my main question is when will countries with vested interests stop interfering in the affairs of Libya?

And my final question: why do the mainstream media and Western governments continue to report that the Paris Summit was a success given these facts?

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