The decision by the UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, to step down and take up a high paying job in the UAE has raised speculations about Abu Dhabi’s role in Libya’s internal affairs.
Britain’s the Guardian newspaper revealed last week: “United Nations special representative in Libya spent the summer negotiating a £35,000-a-month job with a Gulf state that supports one side in the civil war he was trying to end.”
According to the paper, the UAE announced that Leon would take over as director general of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi; a state-backed thinktank founded last year to promote the UAE’s foreign policy and strategic relations and train its diplomats.
The paper revealed an e-mail sent by Leon to the UAE Foreign Minister, Abdullah Bin Zayed, on 31 December 2014 in which he says that his plan is to “break a very dangerous alliance between the wealthy merchants of Misrata and the Islamists that keeps the [General National Council] GNC afloat” and that “he wants to reinforce the [House of Representatives] HOR, the body backed by the UAE and Egypt”.
It is clear from the e-mail which side the UN envoy support, saying he is “not working on a political plan that will include everybody” and that he has a strategy to “completely delegitimise” the GNC.
“All my movements and proposals have been consulted with [and in many cases designed by] the HOR and [Libya’s ambassador to the UAE] Aref Nayed and [the UAE-based former Libyan prime minister] Mahmud Jibril,” he admits.
In signing off, León tells the UAE’s foreign minister: “I can help and control the process while I am there. However, as you know I am not planning to stay for a long time … I am seen as biased in favour of HOR. I advised the US, UK and EU to work with you.”
Secretary General of the UAE Umma Party, Hassan Dokki revealed in an interview with Turkey’s Anadolu news agency that the United Arab Emirates was involved in Libya from the first moments of the Libyan revolution.
“The UAE formed a security and military team stationed in three locations; one in Italy, one on the Libyan-Tunisian border, and a third one on the Chadian-Libyan border” he said.