Lebanese academic Ghassan Salamé, head of UNSMIL (UN Support Mission for Libya), was interviewed by 218 News TV on January 20, 2020. Salamé was asked by the interviewer whether disarmament of the Libyan military factions is feasible and whether there would be international oversight for this process. Ghassan Salamé replied that this will happen only if there is a U.N. resolution and the Libyan people are willing to accept it. However, Salamé said that the Libyans are not willing to accept any foreign forces and the U.N. Security Council is not prepared to send forces to Libya, and therefore the Blue Helmets will not be seen anytime soon in Libya. Salamé concluded that “if there is a good political agreement, you don’t need a single man to protect it, but if you have a bad agreement, hundreds of thousands of people will not be enough to protect it.”
Interviewer: Do you think it is easy to disarm the various groups on the ground – with each group handing its weapons over to another group? How will such a process be supervised? Even if these groups voluntarily agree to give up their arms – who will supervise this process? Johnson spoke yesterday about a European force. He suggested it.
Ghssan Salamé: Many things have been discussed. The Europeans in particular have been talking more than they should – [Joseph] Borrell, [Boris] Johnson, [Giuseppe] Conte, and others.
Interviewer: Is it nothing but talk that will not lead to an actual outcome?
Ghssan Salamé: Not without a U.N. resolution. Not without acceptance by the Libyans. I personally – Ghassan Salamé – am telling you that based on my modest acquaintance with the Libyans and with the U.N. Security Council – that the Libyans are not willing to accept foreign forces, and that the U.N. Security Council is not prepared to send forces to Libya.
Interviewer: But no armed group is ready to hand over its arms to another group…
Ghssan Salamé: That is another issue. But I’m telling you that I don’t see any Blue Helmets in Libya soon. Whoever thinks that we have agreed on this is wrong. First of all, because I do not think there is acceptance for this in Libya – from both parties, by the way. I also don’t think that there is much appetite in the Security Council for this kind of adventure. I have learned a little from past cases. Let me tell you something. I have learned a very important principle: If there is a good political agreement, you don’t need a single man to protect it, but if you have a bad political agreement, hundreds of thousands of people will not be enough to protect it.