The first two weeks of Martin Kobler’s leadership of UNSMIL have been a period of intense diplomatic activity. Kobler has already indicated that he will start his mediation efforts where his predecessor left off, but made it clear that “Leon is Leon and Kobler is Kobler” – indicating he would be neutral and impartial. He has already met with parties in the conflict, in Tobruk and Tripoli, and travelled to Cairo to meet with Fayez al-Sarraj, candidate for premiership of the proposed national government and Mohamed Shukri, the Egyptian foreign minister. On 1 December 2015, Kobler arrived in Algiers to attend the 7th meeting of the Neighbours of Libya Group, which includes Tunisia, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Egypt. Representatives from Italy, the EU and the African Union would attend the meeting as well. The renewed Algerian engagement in the Libyan political dialogue process comes against the backdrop of further rapprochement between Tripoli and Tobruk. The Algerian decision also comes after statements from the French foreign minister, which some understood as calls for intervention in Libya, in the wake of the bloody Paris attacks. Members from the two rival legislative houses in Libya met last week in Tunisia and have reportedly agreed to sign the political agreement if Kobler’s amendments are adopted. The Tripoli-based GNC is reportedly holding a session on 3 December to discuss the new developments. The Foundation understands that UNSMIL’s new military affairs staff made contact with the Tripoli government earlier this week, in order to move talks forward on the security arrangements contained in the political agreement. Tripoli has been responsive, but needs assurance that the new staff would depart from – what they consider – the biased position of the previous team, under Leon. Qatar’s announcement last week that it had brokered a ceasefire between the tribes fighting in southern Libya is another key development in the country.
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