Berlin Conference offends
REVERSION?: WHY IS EUROPE HOSTING AFRICAN LEADERS TO DISCUSS AFRICAN ISSUES?
It’s shameful that in 2020, an African matter is deliberated on foreign soil – tweet.
The Russian and German capitals, and not the African Union (AU) or an African city, have surprisingly become ceasefire centres for the raging civil war in Libya.
With African leaders and head of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat travelling to Europe to attend meetings aimed at resolving African problems, concern was raised that the continent was reverting to colonial times.
Libya’s General Khalifa Haftar left for Moscow last week without signing the peace deal, and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted the Berlin Conference on Sunday, to get back to a weapons embargo.
While major military powers support warring sides on the continent, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) is grappling with a corruption and sexual harassment problem.
The Institute for Security Studies eports that an estimated 10 000 terrorist fighters travelled to Iraq and Syria from north Africa. How will the problem-ridden PSC block Daesh (IS) and other terrorist organisations from recruiting soldiers from the continent?
The situation in Libya has been high on AU summits since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi as the power vacuum in the once oil rich country threatens the security of the entire region.
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said that the situation in Libya was of great concern for the government and spoke to her Turkish counterpart to discourage Ankara’s intervention there.
Pandor mentioned that Libya remained high on the PSC’sagenda , TimesLive reported.
The chaos in Libya started with Nato’s intervention in 2011 and it remains one of the top challenges for the AU. The current head of the continental body, Marshal Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, set down a plan to “silence the guns on the continent by 2020”, but the situation on his doorstep is getting worse.
Six African presidents flew to Cairo to discuss the situation in Sudan and Libya last year after Sisi’s emergency call. The African presidents called for an “immediate and unconditional halt” to fighting in Libya, but the AU’s Libya “troika” failed to restore peace.
The Organisation of African Unity largely failed to tackle the challenges the continent faced, but there was hope that transforming the body into the African Union (AU) in 2002 would change that. The PSC, which is the largest continental body under the AU, initially gave rise to great hope that it would solve the continent’s security challenges. But since the Arab Spring, the PSC has not acted decisively.
Libya’s destruction has become a clear indication the PSC acts slowly and fails to prevent foreign intervention. Of course, the PSC faces many challenges, such as the lack of unity and political will of member states. Allegations of corruption, sexual abuse and power struggles have also hampered it from doing its work.
The Mail & Guardian reported that 37 women signed a petition in 2018 alleging there was professional apartheid against women in the PSC. The AU’s special envoy on women, peace and security, Bineta Diop, outlined 40 cases of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, nepotism and corruption in the body.
AU reports show the majority of the cases occurred in the peace and security department. PSC head Smail Chergui defended his organisation, saying his unit was the biggest under the AU, and it was normal for a high percentage of irregularities to happen in his department.
Following Moscow’s unsuccessful ceasefire summit, Berlin hosted world powers with interests in Libya’s long-running conflict. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Libya issue for four hours. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Algeria, China, the Republic of Congo and leaders from the United Nations, the European Union, the AU and the Arab League also attended the summit.
As German leader Angela Merkel mentioned earlier, enforcing a UN arms embargo on
Libya would be a priority at the summit. World leaders pledged not to provide weapons to warring parties.
Twitter users reacted to AU Commission head Mahamat discussing African issues abroad.
“I did not realise we had been sent back to 1884. It is shameful that in 2020, an African matter is deliberated on foreign soil” @ vamarerwa tweeted.
Chergui, who was attending the Committee for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali during the Berlin Summit, recently hosted ambassador Guma Ibrahim of Libya.
The scandal-ridden PSC’s role is key for African security as the AU High Level Committee on Libya starts this weekend in Brazzaville. It seems the Berlin Conference did not deliver serious dialogue between the warring parties as Libyan National Army leader Khalifa Haftar is blockading Libya’s oil fields.
Haftar is supported by the UAE and Egypt, including Russian mercenaries. Erdogan strongly supports the Government of National Accord, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and deploying his Syrian Allied forces to Tripoli.
The PSC needs to act more decisively to prevent Libya becoming hub for foreign fighters.
Terzi is a Turkish journalist based in SA. He holds a Master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Johannesburg.
Peace and Security Council must act decisively