On Tuesday, the former head of the UN Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL), Ghassan Salame, voiced his optimism about the peace negotiations in Libya, in an interview with France 24. He believes that, “The situation has never been so propitious for a solution to the Libyan crisis.”
The Lebanese diplomat stressed that, “I complained, and still complain about the foreign interference in Libya.” Salame claimed that foreign powers have dragged the country to unbearable levels even after “they all came to Berlin and accepted the conference’s conclusions.” “They agreed that they would not send mercenaries, weapons, nor planes to Libya but they did afterwards,” he lamented.
The Lebanese academic praised the current efforts made by UNSMIL, in pushing forward with the military talks, the resumption of oil production after a 7-month blockade, and the auditing of the central bank. He also urged the military commission agreed to in Berlin, to meet again with a promising spirit. “I hope the political talks will start as early as the first week of November, if COVID-19 allows for it,” he said.
Salame also discussed the tragic explosion that shook Beirut and urged for the formation of a new Lebanese government as soon as possible. Regarding the upcoming American elections, he claimed he was worried about President Trump’s contempt for multilateralism, wishing for “a more multilateralist approach from the largest nation on earth.”
A former Lebanese culture minister, Salame took office at UNSMIL in July 2017. He was placed in charge of the UN’s efforts to bring an end to the years of turmoil in Libya. In fact, the country descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war, with divided and rival governments on each end of the country. Salame stated that he had stepped down as the UN envoy for health reasons, adding that he was admitted to hospital.
During his tenure, Salame was involved in mediating three-tiered talks between Libya’s warring parties on economic, political and military matters.