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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Divisions begin to appear in the eastern Libyan National Army forces of Khalifa Haftar

Divisions appear within the LNA, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, as the unity government defense minister Barghathi supports the Solid Structure forces, mainly Misrata militia, and also the Petroleum Facilities Guard led by Haftar's foe, Ibrahim Jodhran.

The Defense Minister of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Mahdia Barghathi said that his ministry will provide full support for the Solid Structure forces and also the Petroleum Forces Guard (PFG) in their fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Sirte and elsewhere.
In a meeting with Jodhran in Ras Lanuf, as well as Colonel Bashir Budafira of the Ajdabiya-Sirte operations room, Barghathi called on Libyan forces to end their divisions and fight against IS and other extremists in the country. At the same time, he reportedly ordered Jodhran's PFG to secure oil fields in the area. Some are said to be in the hands of pro-LNA forces loyal to Haftar. This order is likely to cause combat rather than heal divisions. Barghathi also visited the towns of Ben Jawad and Nufliya recently liberated from IS by the PFG.
There is a battle between Barghathi and Haftar to gain support among eastern tribes. No doubt, Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) of the UN and the GNA are encouraging this division in an attempt to isolate Haftar and gain more power for the GNA. While Barghathi is believed to still have considerable support within the Libyan National Army in the east, Haftar appears to have even more. Both he and Barghathi have had meetings to gain support. Just last week Haftar held a meeting with the Supreme Council of Tribes of Benghazi. They pledged support for Haftar and the Al-Thiinni House of Representatives (HoR) However, it also decided it would try to build bridges between Haftar and Barghathi.
Haftar has not participated in the offensive against IS in Sirte although he announced more than three weeks ago that he was marching to liberate the city. He has had no battles with IS in the area. Instead he has been attacking the city of Derna and the Shura Council of Derna Jihadists, who recently were instrumental in ridding Derna of IS. He has come under considerable criticism for the civilian casualties that he has caused.
Recently, Haftar dissolved two militias that were part of his Dignity Operation. They are the Special Tasks Force and Military Intelligence. Both had taken the side of Barghathi against Haftar. Haftar launched Dignity Operation back in May of 2014 to clear Libya of Islamist militia. He includes many loyal to the GNA including the Mistrata militia who are part of Solid Structure.
Faraj Egaim, the head of the Special Tasks Force, said that a ring aligned with Haftar's military command, had been arrested for committing murder. During a meeting of the Awagir tribe in Benghazi, Egaim said his force had arrested a 15-member cell in downtown Benghazi who were plotting assassinations of a number of people including himself and GNA defense minister Barghathi. Egaim said:"We seized guns with silencers with this ring, they have underground secret detention centers where torture is practiced, they are hiring 6 Bengalis to commit torture and cut off limbs of their victims, We recorded 137 cases of murder committed by groups loyal of Haftar."He said that there was no army just senior military leaders doing business with their ammunition and equipment. He claimed the government and military officials were involved in corrupt business deals. He claimed he had to buy ammunition for his own militia. He said that Haftar wants a defense minister submissive to his will.
The House of Representatives (HoR) has still not voted confidence in the GNA as yet as required under the terms of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). After the vote, the HoR would become the legislature of the GNA. Until it does, the HoR does not recognize the GNA. A meeting was to be held last Monday in Tobruk but there was no quorum. There have been numerous meetings with either no quorum or a disrupted meeting with no vote. Another meeting is supposedly scheduled for this Monday.
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