Salame: Foreign Countries Want to Obstruct Peace Talks in Libya

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The former Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ghassan Salame, said that the US is responsible for the exacerbation of the Libyan crisis as a result of its conflict with Russia and China.

In an interview with Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Salame said that Libya presents a unique case in which the UN is in a hurry to reach a settlement process. He noted that several countries wanted to lead that role, but the UN mission has managed to keep itself on top, despite the many challenges.

He noted that UNSMIL managed throughout the last two years to bring together under the same roof the Egyptian and Turkish Presidents during the Berlin Conference on 19 January.

“They left it up to the Libyans to implement them. After great difficulty, we managed to reach resolution 2510,” he stated.

The former envoy said that the situation in Libya is now much better, as flights have resumed between cities, roads have reopened, the displaced have returned home, the central bank board met for the first time in three years, and political dialogue was launched in Tunisia.

“All of these developments point to one thing: Libyans have grown more aware,” he noted.

Salame pointed out that some countries sought to obstruct the implementation of the Berlin Conference to achieve their ambitions in the country.

He questioned, “Is the implementation of the Berlin Conference decisions taking place at the pace I want? No. Can the fighting erupt again? Yes. Can foreign meddling return to the way it was before the Berlin summit? Yes. Have the mercenaries pulled out as we wanted? No. Have all roads been reopened? No.”

Salame said that the military offensives that were launched had failed, stressing the need for a political understanding through the UN, because it has no oil or business ambitions in the country, as opposed to other countries.

He confirmed that the UN cares about the Libyans themselves, not their wealth. Furthermore, there is a realization among the many intervening countries that no single one of them is capable of coming out on top, and of solely controlling Libya. They must agree to share influence.

“There are weak signs that we are heading in the right direction in Libya. It will take time, but despite the obstacles, I am optimistic that Libya will get itself out of the mess it has gotten itself into,” he concluded.