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Updated Mar 4, 2020

Ghassan Salamé, the United Nations special envoy for Libya, publicly announced on Twitter on March 2 that he was resigning from his position due to health concerns arising from stress. The resignation came a few days after Salamé brought delegations from the two main sides in the Libyan conflict to Geneva, Switzerland, for peace talks, but key representatives suspended their participation. Salamé was appointed in 2017 to replace the German diplomat Martin Kobler.

 

Why It Matters

Libya’s civil conflict is perhaps the greatest security concern for the African Union and for Europe, fearing the evolving nature of the civil war into a proxy conflict between African and Middle Eastern powers could transform the country into a second Syria. Libya is also a final port of call for migrants making their way into Europe. As such, further destabilization risks undoing deals struck with Tripoli to monitor migrant flows and prevent them from attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

Massive numbers of small arms have been pouring into Libya from countries attempting to shape the outcome of the conflict, despite an arms embargo signed in Berlin in February. These weapons have already made their way beyond Libya’s borders to rebel groups in Chad and terrorist groups in Tunisia. 

 

Rival Factions and Foreign Intervention

Salamé is widely respected in the diplomatic community, but had failed to halt the escalating violence in Libya’s civil conflict, fought between the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and the House of Representatives, based in Tobruk and led by the Libyan National Army’s Khalifa Haftar. Most recently, Salamé condemned foreign interference in the civil war, which has seen countries like France, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates support Haftar, whereas Turkey and Qatar have sent aid to the GNA.

 

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