Political bodies in Libya near agreement; militias remain umoved

Libya’s rival governments have reached a “consensus” on the main elements of a political agreement, a UN special envoy has told reporters.

Bernardino Leon said in Skhirat, Morocco, on Sunday that the two sides were able to “overcome their differences” on major outstanding issues, increasing the likelihood of signing a long-awaited agreement to form a unity government this month.

Leon said it was the first time “that we have the possibility to make it and to have this agreement with all the parties, all the key parties in Libya onboard,” adding that both sides have made compromises. Al Jazeera

While this is a positive step, the reality is that none of the major armed groups in Libya have endorsed this deal, and most have rejected it outright. While this may create a political basis for moving forward in the event that the disparate militias are somehow neutralized and/or unified, it’s not nearly as significant as it sounds.

These militia leaders have had a taste of power and the likelihood of them giving that up to disarm or take orders from politicians is slim. Some of them may agree to work with the unity government, but barring some drastic change in the situation on the ground, they can and will reserve the right to act of their own volition where they see fit.

What we have is an agreement between two “governments” that are not able to enforce their rule — “governments” in quotations because the ability to enforce its rule is a necessary element of any government.

Without a professionalized military, a unity government represents a potential tool for achieving peace, but sadly the challenges Libya faces remain virtually unchanged.

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