Berlin Con­fer­ence of­fends


The Citizen (KZN) - - News -

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

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