Sunday, April 10, 2016

Eastern militia loyal to General Haftar threaten Libyan Government of National Accord

What exactly is happening now in Libya is difficult to know for sure. While there are glowing reports about how the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) is consolidating its power, events in the east threaten to break up the country.

The Libyan Observer in a recent article claims that militia associated with Khalifa Haftar are threatening to wage a relentless war on the GNA of Prime Minister Faiez Serraj. The Observer, which often supports the rival General National Congress (GNC), also announced that the GNC has resigned. No doubt this means it has relinquished power to the UN-brokered GNA. That section and another section 8 that gave power
The Observer quotes the Haftar militia as stating: "We reject the trusteeship government which is supported by the Zionist West and paves the way for colonialism." They made it clear that Haftar, commander-in-chief of the Libya National Army (LNA) associated with the House of Representatives (HoR) government in Tobruk must remain as head of the LNA. Section 8 of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) transfers the role of commander in chief of the LNA to the Presidency Council(PC) of the GNA once it begins operation. Another section 8 in the LPA in the additional provision gave power to the PC even earlier on December 17th when the LPA was signed. Both sections are ignored by the media, the GNA, and the UN.
The GNA declared itself in operation after accepting a letter allegedly signed by a majority of the HoR in support of the GNA, as indicating it was approved by the HoR. Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), also convened a meeting of members of the political dialogue to get their blessing for the GNA to declare itself up and running. The GNA Presidential Council, at least seven of the nine, moved to a naval base just outside of Tripoli. However, the HoR and Haftar insist that the GNA is not legitimate until a formal motion of support is passed through the HoR along with an amendment to the constitutional declaration of 2011. So far this has not happened. Yesterday there was no quorum. I have not heard what happened today in Tobruk.
The militia statement went even further. It called on allies of Haftar throughout Libya to stand against the GNA and said: "We demand the HoR to hand over power to Khalifa Haftar." The group even threatened to drive Islamist militias out of Tripoli as they are doing in Benghazi. One militia leader said: "We have people in Tripoli waiting for the zero-hour, we wanted to spare bloodshed in Tripoli, but you -Fayaz Sirraj- is going to cause it. Any place for Fayaz Sirraj will be fully destroyed, let it be war." The Libya Herald, a competitor to the Observer provides no report on these militia. It did report on a recent meeting of commanders of the LNA with tribal and other officials in Marj recently.
The Herald reports on power shifting to the GNA in Tripoli and Kobler meetings with Serraj and local officials. Albawaba gives a similar upbeat report about the consolidation of power of the GNA in Tripoli. Kobler and UN personnel had no trouble landing in the Mitiga airport in Tripoli. Tunisia announced it would re-open its embassy in Tripoli. Not everyone has such an optimistic view of what is happening. Consider this article in the Oman Times.
Although there are reports that the PC will go to Tobruk and appear before the HoR with a vote of confidence taking place, so far this seems not to have happened. The Observer has an astonishing tweet:State Council, acting as GNC, amends the constitutional declaration to include Skhirat agreement, ignoring Tobruk parliament
This makes no sense. The State Council is an advisory body, part of the GNA composed of former members of the GNC illegally chosen by Makhzoum who has been expelled from the GNC. The members were supposed to have been chosen by the GNC itself. However, the UN and the PC of the GNA accepted Makhzoum's list as valid. The State Council has no legislative power so it cannot amend anything. I have no idea what happened but it sounds as if it is some kind of move to amend the constitutional declaration bypassing the HoR. If this is so, it is just another move that will generate resentment and opposition in the HoR. It is hard to understand what the GNA and Kobler are up to. Haftar has the support of Egypt, the UAE, Jordan, the Arab League and others. Is the GNA trying to force a division within Libya between Cyrenaica and the rest of the country?


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