Monday, October 20, 2014

Libyan government supports CIA-linked General Haftar and declares war on Islamists

The Islamist-dominated militias who control Tripoli and Benghazi, convened the General National Congress(GNC), which appointed a prime minister who formed a government, but the internationally recognized elected government is in Tobruk in eastern Libya
Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Dairi said in a London interview that Libya had only one legitimate government, the House of Representatives, that meets in Tobruk. The earlier parliament passed a motion that the parliament should meet in Benghazi in August but before that could happen, Bengahazi was taken over by an umbrella group of mostly Islamist militias and so for security reasons the parliament met in Tobruk in the far east of Libya. Al-Dairi said that the way out of the present crisis was "to reach an agreement from within the House of Representatives and to recognize its legitimacy. The government must then return to Tripoli, as that is its natural place, and it must resume its normal responsibilities as soon as possible".
 This simply ignores the fact that the Tobruk government has no power in Tripoli which is run by an umbrella group of mostly Islamist militia and the rival government. Libya has requested Egypt to help secure its eastern border. Al-Dairi noted:We ask this of all our fellow neighbours, including Chad and Niger. We have been doing this since 2012. The truth is that we would like to secure our borders and coordinate with all of our neighbouring countries. We would also like to build upon the capabilities of the Libyan army. We want to dispel the confusion surrounding foreign interference, which seems to be occupying the Arab and international media."
 At the time Islamist militias were taking control of Tripoli from CIA-linked Khalifa Haftar's allies who had earlier raided and burned the the elected parliament, there had been several night bombing raids by bombers that rebels and at first the US claimed came from the United Arab Emirates using a base in Egypt. Recently air attacks have been made on Islamist positions in Benghazi that several sources claim came from Egypt. This is no doubt the confusion that the Tobruk-based government would like to dispel.
 Exiled Egyptian opposition members of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council based in Istanbul Turkey condemned the Egyptian intervention in Libya. This is hardly surprising since the group are supporters of ousted president Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
 General Haftar had earlier launched what he called Operation Dignity by attacking two Islamist bases in Benghazi prior to his allies the Zintan Brigades attacking the parliament as shown on the video below: The approach taken by the government is to talk only to those who were elected but boycotted the new parliament. There is no communication at all with the GNC created government now located in Bayda. Al-Dairi claims: "The truth is that we only communicate with elected parliamentary representatives. There is only one legitimate government in Libya and therefore, there aren't two governments.". However, the main cities Tripoli and Benghazi and much of the rest of the country is under control of militia associated with the rival government. To act as if they do not exist or at least not talk to them is certain not to result in a political solution. There are even competing oil policies. The Islamist militias have already rejected the talks that are going on. Both sides, Haftar's militia and the Islamist militias, have resumed fighting as well.
 Clashes continued in Benghazi with the death toll at 49 in Benghazi after three days of clashes. Mohsen Wagdi a 20-year old student said: "It has become very normal to pass by a corpse in the street and not stop. Now, as we are going to pray, in the background, we hear explosions." Some neighborhoods are deserted, others are sealed off from one side or the other with checkpoints. Hundreds are trapped by the clashes. The Red Crescent pleaded for just an hour or two of a cease fire so that civilians could be evacuated. Faraj Najm, a historian and resident of Benghazi said: "You can find a wedding and a mourning tent side by side now. A state of mental alienation is a strategy for adopting to life in a war zone.The militarization of civilians in the streets is very dangerous. Killings of families will only lead to retaliatory attacks. It is a grave mistake to ask people to take up weapons... The people's support should always be through peaceful means, or we will end up with more militias and ignite a civil war."
 There is already a civil war with Haftar having in effect already achieved the coup as the new Tobruk government supports his Operation Dignity. As far back as February 14th this year CIA-linked Haftar had attempted a coup by dissolving the existing parliament. A warrant was issued by authorities for his arrest. He was not arrested but continued to organize and in May launched his Operation Dignity with attacks on two Islamist bases to start. At the time the present Prime Minister of Libya Abdullah al-Thani was also then prime minister. He considered Operation Dignity illegal: At a government press conference held as a response to the Benghazi assault, acting Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni condemned the move by Haftar as illegal and claimed that the move undermined attempts to confront terrorism."
 Now after Haftar launched a new assault on Islamists who control Benghazi, Thani claims the the operation is"under command of the regular army and the control of government and parliament". More likely the regular army and the Tobruk government are now under the control of Haftar. Haftar is no longer a renegade general and no longer are there his militias since the army and Haftar's forces are one. Haftar is acting just the same but it is no longer illegal and far from undermining attempts to confront terrorism the government hopes to drive the Islamists who will now become classified as terrorists out of Tripoli and Benghazi. Al-Thani said in an interview with AP : "All military forces have been placed under army command to liberate Tripoli and Benghazi."
The UN attempts at dialogue has been all smoke and mirrors. The Libyan government has declared war on the Islamists which is in effect to announce the beginning of a civil war with Haftar being on the side of the good guys the internationally recognized house of representatives. These good guys are led by the same fellow who was supposed to carry out a warrant for Haftar's arrest and who claimed that Haftar's earlier attacks on Islamists in Benghazi as part of Operation Dignity were illegal and counter-productive.