Richard Gowan comments on the bizarre U.S. rejection of Salam Fayyad to head the U.N. mission to Libya:
The U.S. maneuver is simultaneously tokenistic, destructive and liable to backfire.
The Bush and Obama administrations invested a great deal in Fayyad as one of the few Palestinian politicians they trusted. It is not clear how publicly belittling him serves Israel’s interests. Fayyad is a specialist in building up state institutions, skills that are sorely needed in Tripoli and Benghazi. In blocking him, the Trump administration implies that it is not all that serious about ending the Libyan conflict.
Haley made it plain enough that the U.S. was blocking Fayyad solely because he is Palestinian. The administration thinks that it is somehow defending Israel against U.N. “bias” by rejecting the very Palestinian leader that the U.S. has supported in the past. It goes without saying that they aren’t even thinking about the Libyan conflict or the effect this may have on U.N. efforts to address it, because obsessively “defending” Israel at the U.N. is the only part of the U.S. role there that they seem interested in. That would just be the usual stupid “pro-Israel” posturing that benefits no one, but it seems that this involved a hefty dose of diplomatic incompetence as well. The Secretary-General had reportedly been led to believe by our officials that the U.S. would support his appointment:
In the days leading up to Friday’s surprise decision by the Trump administration to block the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to a top U.N. job, senior U.S. officials in Washington and New York assured U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and other diplomats that they would accept him for the job, according to diplomatic sources.
That made late Friday’s abrupt about face — with the Trump administration suddenly vetoing Fayyad’s appointment to lead the U.N. mission in Libya — all the more shocking for U.S. partners on the Security Council and some career U.S. diplomats, according to those diplomatic sources.
The episode is bound to sour relations between Haley and Secretary-General Guterres, which will only make Haley’s job harder than it needs to be. It takes the administration’s “pro-Israel” posturing to the point of self-parody, and does nothing but make the U.S. look both clumsy and incompetent in the eyes of other governments. None of this advances U.S. interests, and it certainly won’t do anything to reform the U.N.