In a highly anticipated announcement, the General National Congress (GNC) declared on Jan 18 its agreement to participate in the UNSMIL-sponsored dialogue, though with one primary condition—that the peace talks move from their current location in Geneva, Switzerland, to inside of Libya. The decision was likely a political calculation whereby they demonstrate both their control of the situation to their constituents and also their commitment to a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The GNC’s participation in the dialogue has been considered vital for the success of brokering a lasting peace, since many Libyans view the GNC as the only legitimate government in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling against the elections that brought about the internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR). In response, UNSMIL welcomed the decision and announced that future peace talks inside of Libya would be possible as long as the security and logistical conditions permit them. The GNC has suggested the south-western town of Ghat as a meeting place but the UN has not responded yet to the proposed location.
Vessels, Aircraft Targeted; Dialogue Remains in Doubt – 12 Jan 2015
The Operation Dignity airstrike targeting an oil tanker operated by an Athens-based company off the coast of Derna highlighted the increasing risk to civilian vessels approaching Libyan waters. The attack was immediately condemned by the Tripoli-based GNC government and the international community. Officials affiliated with the HoR government and Operation Dignity claimed responsibility for the airstrike but insisted that they targeted the tanker because it appeared suspicious and did not have clearance to enter Derna—a stronghold for Islamist extremists that the HoR government is currently fighting. The oil tanker was in fact under charter by Libya’s NOC to distribute fuel to power plants along the coast.