Efforts to resolve the ongoing split in Libya, with two rival governments vying for legitimacy and other factions like ISIS taking over growing territory, have suffered a major blow with the UN envoy responsible for the talks being hired away from the program by the United Arab Emirates, a backer of the Tobruk-based government.
Bernardino Leon, the diplomat in question, was given a high-paying job at a UAE government-funded thinktank, leading to accusations that the efforts under his watch were “compromised” and that he was biased in favor of the Tobruk government, and against the Tripoli government.
The Tripoli government is demanding an explanation from the UN, though Leon is denying any wrongdoing, and his office suggests that his sudden receipt of a lucrative job offer was mere coincidence, and not a function of his handling of the talks.
The UN formally recognizes the Tobruk government, and not the Tripoli one, and has sought to get the two sides to agree to some sort of unity government. The Tobruk government has largely spurned such efforts seeking dramatically more representation in any unity government than the Tripoli side would receive.
The Tripoli government controls the area between Tripoli and Misrata, while Tobruk controls only a small coastal region near Egypt. ISIS controls much of the center of the country, around Sirte, while other local factions control most of the remaining cities and towns.