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Monday, May 30, 2016

Head of State Council of GNA allegedly target of attack at Abu Grain

The State Council of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) condemned an alleged attack on its president Abdulrahman Sewehli while visiting Abu Grain, south of Misrata. Abu Grain was recently recaptured from the Islamic State (IS).

Sewehli went there to be briefed on operations against IS. In a statement the State Council demanded that those involved should be punished. The Council said those responsible were not part of the anti-IS operation.
As often happens in Libya, there are conflicting reports about what actually happened. One report claims that Sewehli's convoy was met by the one of the Misratan militias involved in the offensive against IS, Operation Bunyan Marsous, the Aasar militia. The commander, Ibrahim Rafaida, verbally attacked Sewehli over the lack of support that the militia were being given by authorities in Tripoli. During a heated argument Rafaida was said to have slapped Sewehli. A fight developed between the Aasar group and Sewehli's body guards. Sewehil was accompanied by Brigadier Bashir Al-Gadi of the operations room. Sewehli and Gadi were said to be overpowered and beaten. One of the bodyguards was said to be shot in the leg and one of the vehicles in the convoy destroyed. However, they managed to escape with Sewehli being helicoptred out to Misrata and then back to Tripoli.
Rafaida is described as an Islamist militant, sympathetic to Ansar Al-Sharia, as well as the Shura Council of Benghazi. He is said to have been formerly close to Sewehli. In spite of these reports and with the Council launching an investigation into the incident, Seweli's own media office denies the incident even happened. It has said instead that there were clashes with the IS as he arrived in which one vehicle was destroyed, but no one hurt. Why the narratives are so different is hard to fathom. The IS are supposed to have been driven from the area several days ago.
Sewehli is strongly opposed to Haftar and worries about former supporters of Gadaffi being part of the new GNA, although some members of the GNA, such as the defense minister, are part of the Libyan National Army that Haftar commands. However, he is an opponent of Haftar. Sewehli's son was recently kidnapped.
Sewehli has many enemies but mostly among opponents of Islamists and supporters of Haftar's Operation Dignity. Back on March 3 of 2014, he was shot while a member of parliament but by members of the Zintan brigades loyal to Haftar. CNN reported that at least two members of Libya's General National Congress were shot and wounded after protesters stormed its headquarters:One of the congressmen, Abdul Rahman Sweihli, was shot in the leg after protesters opened fire on him inside the building. As his security detail rushed him out, gunmen opened fire on their cars as they were trying to flee, his son Bashir Sweihli told CNN.
Another son, Ahmed, tweeted recently: "Swehli shot in foot-2yrs ago by Zintan militia storming GNC Tripoli.Just reminding @libyaherald @HESHAM_LIBYA_FR"


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