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Aref Nayed’s Return to Libya Can Only Further Political Divisiveness

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

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Libya’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Dr. Aref Ali Nayed, who has served in the mission since the revolution, has stepped down.

In a letter to Ageela Saleh, Nayed expressed that it was an honour to serve since he was appointed by the National Transitional Council, however he did not give a reason for his decision. There has been many speculations as to why Nayed resigned, with some saying it was due to his interest in furthering his political career, while others claim it is due to shifting UAE foreign policy away from Nayed and those he backs – but it remains unclear.

Just over a year ago, Nayed invested efforts to increase his profile in Washington and it was rumored that he was building himself up for a presidential candidacy. However, after the Libyan Political Agreement was signed and the Government of National Accord (GNA) was established, his presence on the international platform quieted down.

What is clear is that during his period as Ambassador to the UAE, Nayed’s popularity in Libya has been decreasing by the day. During his term, Libyans witnessed the New York Times expose the UAE’s intervention in Libya in August 2014 when it secretly launched airstrikes in support of Haftar’s Operation Dignity in Tripoli. Despite the establishment of the UN-backed GNA, the UAE in April 2016 sent an illegal shipment of several donated Armored Personal Carriers (APC) and military pick-up trucks to the army formed by the eastern government and controlled by Haftar. The UAE has made similar donations to Haftar since 2012, reportedly donating several Typhoon 4×4 APCS in May 2015, which violate the UN arms embargo placed on Libya. More recently, the UAE allied with Haftar on his war on Ganfouda. Last month, UAE drones killed many civilians in Ganfouda, which Amnesty International and HRW called war crimes. The UAE’s foreign policy in Libya has prolonged and intensified Libya’s multitude of problems. Despite the United Nations Security Council’s call on all UN Member States to end official contact with any parallel institutions that claim legitimacy in Libya, the UAE has continued to undermine the country’s attempts at unification and national resolve by supporting the House of Representatives and Haftar.

However, sources say that Nayed’s resignation is tied to the UAE Foreign Minister and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan’s recent visit to Turkey where he met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Although not confirmed, discussion on bilateral relations may have included suggestions that Nayed had a role in the recent attempted coup d’etat.

One of the most controversial incidents during Nayed’s post was the case of the Libyan businessmen who were kidnapped, tortured, and arbitrarily detained by UAE State Security before being finally acquitted of all charges by the UAE Supreme Court. Nayed has been accused of collaborating with UAE State Security, which resulted in this international human rights tragedy that significantly damaged UAE relations with Libya, the United States, and Canada as many of the businessmen held dual-nationalities. The kidnapping of the businessmen came shortly after UAE airstrikes in Libya in August 2015 in support of Haftar’s failed Operation Dignity. Sources say that Nayed provided the names of the businessmen to the State Security as being Libyans who had strong ties to the Tripoli-based government and political parties and was fully aware of their kidnapping and interrogations. Yet, he denied any knowledge of it to their families until it hit international media. As the human rights case developed, it became known that Nayed did not offer any of the ten Libyans consular support, visited them only once after a year of their detainment, and never attended their court hearings, although US and Canadian officials actively monitored the case and provided consular assistance as per international law. This human rights case greatly impacted the UAE’s reputation internationally and with its close allies. As a result, the UAE introduced some changes to its State Security and sources say that the UAE blames Nayed for this diplomatic nightmare.
Regardless of the reason of his resignation, Aref Nayed will most likely choose to find himself a role in Libya’s political arena. If he does, this will only further the divisiveness among Libyans considering the ongoing political turmoil in Libya.

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