Global powers are caught up in a dilemma — whether to support the UN-sanctioned government in Libya or silently allow its adversary warlord Haftar take it down — and the UN is complicit in worsening the conflict, experts argue.
Many security experts believe the political chaos and increasing violence in Libya is because of the United Nation’s inactive involvement over the future of the war-affected country.
"The UN’s standing on Libya has been a matter of debate since the beginning," Merve Seren, Assistant Professor in International Relations at Turkey's Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University, told TRT World.
Seren said that the UN chief Antonio Guterres personally visited Haftar in April, when the warlord had intensified attacks on Tripoli. "When Guterres visited Haftar, a coup plotter who's trying to dislodge a government authorised by the UN itself, it shows the UN's hypocrisy. Therefore, the thing which has invalidated the officially recognised Libyan government is no one else but the UN," Seren said.
"When it comes to global powers, five countries are prominent: the US, France, Russia, Greece and Israel. The US, France and Russia are members of the United Nations Security Council and when they all support Haftar rather than a UN-backed government, it means the ones who are responsible for the security of the world are simply breaking all norms and siding with a warlord."
Samuel Ramani, a DPhil candidate in International Relations at the University of Oxford, told TRT World that another dimension to the Libyan conflict is its oil resources and ports.
“The international community continues to turn a blind eye to Haftar's offensive on Tripoli, in part because Haftar's actions suit the political interests of great and regional powers,” Ramani said.
He also added that since Haftar controls oil reserves in southern and eastern Libya, as well as the critical port of Benghazi, it's hard to foresee major global powers taking a tough stance against the warlord general.
“They believe the internationally recognised government is unlikely to take over these areas in the foreseeable future, so backing Haftar or at least, keeping silent on his conduct, is the best way for countries to secure their interests in the eventual struggle for reconstruction contracts in Libya,” said Ramani, who specialises in post-1991 Russian foreign policy.
UN-backed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj has condemned the silence of global powers, including his allies, and for not taking a stand against Haftar and stopping his violent advance toward the capital city, Tripoli.
According to Ramani, the UN-backed arms embargo on Haftar proved ineffective as two close US allies, Egypt and the UAE, are supplying weapons to Haftar's forces on the ground.
“A UN report also revealed countries like Jordan and Sudan were involved in the arms embargo violations, in addition to the well-documented roles of Russia and France in violating the arms embargo. The inability of the UN to punish great powers is a recurring theme, but the inefficacy of the UN in targeting regional powers without vetos in the Security Council raises serious doubts about its utility in security crises, such as Libya,” Ramani added.