Turkmen Terzi. Picture: Supplied
The Russian and German capitals, and not the African Union or an African city, have surprisingly become ceasefire centres for the raging civil war in Libya.
With African leaders and head of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat travelling to Europe to attend meetings aimed at resolving African problems, concern was raised that the continent was reverting back to colonial times.
Libya’s General Haftar left for Moscow last week without signing a peace deal and Germany’s Angela Merkel hosted the Berlin Conference on Sunday to get back to a weapons embargo.
Whilst major military powers support warring sides in the continent, the African Union Peace and Security Council [PSC] is grappling with a corruption and sexual harassment problem.
The Institute for Security Studies [ISS] reports that an estimated 10,000 terrorist fighters travelled to Iraq and Syria from North Africa. How will the problem-ridden PSC prevent Daesh and other terrorist organisations recruit soldiers from the continent?
The situation in Libya has been high on AU summits since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi as the power vacuum of the once oil-rich country threatens the security of the entire region.
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said that the situation in Libya is of great concern for the government and spoke to her Turkish counterpart to discourage Ankara’s intervention in Libya.
Pandor mentioned that Libya remains high on the PSC’s meeting agenda, TimesLive reported.
The current chaos in Libya started with NATO’s intervention in 2011 and still remains one of the top challenges for the AU. The current head of the continental body, Marshal Abdel Fatah 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 Sudan and Libya situation last year upon Sisi’s emergency call. The African presidents called for an “immediate and unconditional halt” in the fighting in Libya but the AU’s Libya “troika” failed to restore peace in Libya.
Why the African Unions fails
As the Organization of African Unity (OAU) largely failed to tackle the challenges that the continent faces, there was hope that transforming the body into the African Union (AU) in 2002 would change the situation. The PSC, which is the largest continental body under the AU, initially gave great hope to the continent to solve their security challenges but since the Arab Spring, the PSC is failing to act decisively.
Libya’s destruction has become a clear indication that the PSC acts slowly and fails to prevent foreign intervention. Of course, the PSC faces many challenges such as lack of unity and political will among member states. Allegations of corruption, sexual abuse and power struggles have hampered the organisation from doing its work.
The Mail&Guardian reported that 37 women signed a petition in 2018 that alleged a professional apartheid against women in the PSC. AU’s special envoy on women, peace and security, Bineta Diop, outlined 40 cases of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, nepotism and corruption within the body.
AU reports show that the large majority of the cases occurred in the peace and security department. PSC head, Smail Chergui, defended his organization by saying that his unit is the biggest under the AU, and it is normal that a high percentage of irregularities happened in his department.
African Union wasn’t invisible at Berlin Conference
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 Wladimir Putin discussed the Libya issue for four hours.
United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, China and the Republic of Congo and leaders from the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the Arab League also attended the summit.
As the German leader Angele Merkel mentioned earlier that 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 African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat as he travelled to Berlin to discuss 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 very key for African security as the AU High Committee on Libya will start this weekend in Brazzaville. It seems that the Berlin Conference failed to deliver serious dialogue between warring parties, as Libyan National Army (LNA) leader Khalifa Haftar are blockading Libya’s precious oil fields.
Haftar is supported by United Arab Emirates and Egypt, including Russian mercenaries. Erdogan, who joined the Berlin conference with his large delegation, strongly supports the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and is deploying his Syrian Allied forces to Tripoli.
The AU’s peace and security council needs to act more decisively to prevent Libya from becoming hub of foreign fighters.
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