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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Status of CIA-linked General Khalifa Haftar not clear within new Libyan Government of National Accord

A recent statement from the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord(GNA) suggests General Khalifa Haftar. commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA). will remain in this position after the GNA comes into existence.
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The GNA Presidency Council condemned recent attacks in Benghazi as being carried out by terrorists. The Council gave its complete support to the Libyan National Army. It described the attacks on the Benghazi North Power Station as failed attempts by the Islamic State and "dark powers" to bring the city to its knees. The plant provides electricity both for the city and some surrounding areas. The statement praised the sacrifices of the LNA soldiers and promised the GNA would provide it with the utmost support after the UN Security Council lifted the arms ban on Libya. Certainly there is nothing exceptional in the condemnation of the Islamic State. Even the Islamists in the rival General National Congress (GNC) based in Tripoli would join in this condemnation. However, the Libya Herald points out:
The blanket description of various different Islamist organisations, such as the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shoura Council (BRSC) and Ansar Al-Sharia as well as the so-called Islamic State as terrorists echoes that of General Khalifa Hafter and Operation Dignity, which have taken the same line.Certainly, in the west, Ansar al-Sharia are considered terrorists but there are a number of other Islamist groups in the BRSC, which are supported by the General National Congress government. As the Herald says, Haftar lumps them all together and his Operation Dignity, which in effect started the ongoing conflict in May of 2014, is against the militia such as Libya Dawn associated with the GNC government.

He has often said he would never sign a ceasefire of negotiate with them. However, he has been mum lately, carrying on as always but saying nothing against the LPA which before he rejected many times.
The Herald also reports Misratans, who are advising members of the council meeting at present in Tunis, said it has been agreed by all members to leave Haftar's role aside until some point in the future.This is an astonishing statement. Under the terms of the LPA, the function of commander in chief of the LNA is taken on by the Council itself as soon as the GNA has a vote of confidence in the HoR and comes into being. It is astonishing that the GNC member of the council would agree to this. Other GNC signers of the LPA will be outraged. Not only that but just a while ago the same Council was badly split on the issue. It is unlikely that there would suddenly be accord such as is described. Was Kobler able to arrange something? Kobler himself, when asked about the status of Haftar, said it was up to the GNA. He made no mention of the provision in the LPA that takes away his position and gives it to the GNC officials.
The pro-GNC Libya Observer also took note of the Presidential Council statement.The UN-imposed government of Fayaz Sirraj hailed on Sunday "the Libyan Armed Forces," Khalifa Haftar's de facto armed groups, in their battle against what it described "terrorism" in Benghazi. According to renegade Gen. Khalifa Haftar's classification, Libya Dawn Operation and shura councils in Benghazi and Derna are terrorist organizations just like IS/Daesh. The statement also promised to lift arms embargo on weapons sales to the army.Note that the Observer calls the GNA "the UN-imposed government," as well as pointing out that Libya Dawn and Shura councils in Derna and Benghazi are classified by Haftar as terrorist organizations. The Derna Council drove the Islamic State out of Derna. There is no doubt though that it contains radical Islamists. The Observer claims the statement, according to some sources, was a unilateral one made simply by the pro-Haftar members of the council. If this is so, it will only serve to enrage other members and threaten the viability of the council even before it becomes a functioning group with real power. As the Observer remarks:Last week, a dispute broke out between presidency council members over the role of Khalifa Haftar in the new government. Eastern members threatened to suspend their membership if Haftar was dismissed, while western members fear if Haftar remained, they would lose support of their allies in Tripoli and Misrata.
There are strange happenings in Libya. The head of the UNSMIL, Martin Kobler, says nothing about these issues or about the failure of the HoR to gain a quorum to approve the GNA. It will be interesting to see if he even bothers to deny the allegation that he is the one preventing the vote as discussed in my earlier article.


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