By Libya Herald reporters.
Tunis, 16 May 2016:
The international community today seemed to back a limited lifting of the UN Libyan weapons embargo to . . .[restrict]arm the Government of National Accord for its battle against IS.
However no sooner had the final communiqué from the Vienna Libyan summit been issued, than the Russians, who had apparently endorsed the statement, said they did not believe the UN Security Council’s approval was guaranteed.
Until Russia’s Libyan ambassador Ivan Molotkov told Russian broadcaster RAI that it was premature to think the arms embargo would be lifted immediately, the day had appeared to be going to script. The summit had been called by Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni and US secretary of state John Kerry.
Before the full gathering Kerry spent almost an hour with prime minister-designate Faiez Serraj. He later joined Serraj with some GNA ministers and then had a meeting with his Russian opposite number Sergei Lavrov. The ubiquitous UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler made clear from his Tweets that he was working the corridors as well holding a succession of meetings with participants.
The communiqué at the end of the summit said that the 21 countries attending* were ready to support the GNA’s request to train and equip the Presidential Guard that is currently being formed, along with “vetted forces from throughout Libya”. No indication was given as to who these vetted forces might be.
Molotkov warned: “ It is premature to say that the embargo will be lifted soon as it should be decided by the UNSC and involves consideration of a wide range of criteria and conditions”.
He went on to say “ If Russia supports at least a partial lifting of the embargo, that would mean that we will be ready to go ahead with plans to deliver arms to Libya”.
Moscow warned last month that while it backed the GNA, it would not accept its legitimacy until it had been approved by a vote in the House of Representatives, as set out in the LPA.
The Vienna summit agreed that IS was a prime concern. “ We recognise the necessity of enhanced coordination efforts between legitimate Libyan military and security forces and urge them to work quickly to implement a unified command in accordance with the Libyan Political Agreement”. This would enable the country to defeat UN-designated terror groups in Libya which include IS and Ansar Al-Sharia.
“Ensuring security and defending the country from terrorism must be the task of unified and strengthened national security forces” said the communiqué, “Libyans must fight against terrorism with unity”.
Today’s meeting also produced a commitment to end support for and official contact with “parallel institutions” on the basis that the GNA was the only legitimate recipient of international security assistance and alone had the responsibility of looking after Libya’s resources. The HoR in Tobruk has established a rival NOC and Central Bank.
The communiqué said that in line with UNSC resolution 2278, key institutions, including the Central Bank, the National Oil Corporation and the Libyan Investment Authority had to come under the exclusive control of the Government of National Accord. In the light of this, the communiqué deplored recent oil and arms transactions made outside the GNA .
* The meeting was attended by Algeria, Chad, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Niger, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, United Nations, the League of Arab States, and the African Union. [/restrict]