Friday, July 22, 2016

Defense minister of Libyan unity government survives assassination attempt

An official statement from the office of the GNA Defense Minister Mahdi al-Barghathi reports that he survived an attempted assassination on Wednesday by a car bomb.

Al-Barghathi was leaving an army barracks in the city of Benghazi. One of his guards was said to be injured by shrapnel. Another report says that a man and two of his daughters who were passing by were also injured. The same report claims the attack was Wednesday night rather than Thursday as theDaily Mail reports, as does Libya Prospect.
Apparently Barghathi had been meeting with a number of chiefs of armed brigades mostly from his Awaqir tribe at the 204 Tanks brigade office. The attack, according to the Barghathi's media office, was not at the offices themselves but a bomb parked at the roundabout of the Al-Arab Medical University went off as Barghathi's motorcade passed.
Barghathi is at odds with General Khalifa Haftar, commander in chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) associated with the House of Representatives (HoR). Neither the HoR nor Haftar recognize the GNA. Martin Kobler the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) has been unable to have the HoR vote confidence in the GNA as is required by the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). Although the HoR has had many meetings they have either lacked a quorum or been disrupted.The LPA makes the Presidential Council (PC) of the GNA commander in chief of GNA forces until a new one is chosen. Haftar wants to remain as commander in chief as he is now. After approval by the HoR, the HoR becomes the legislature of the GNA.
The Libya Observer notes that the Awaqir tribe is at odds with Haftar. Faraj Egaim, chief of the so-called Special Tasks Force, an armed group from the tribe, revealed that a group loyal to Haftar had been busted in Benghazi for attempting to assassinate Baraghathi. Relations between Haftar and Baraghathi have deteriorated ever since Baraghathi accepted the post of defense minister in the GNA. His appointment was not approved by Haftar, even though he is part of Haftar's Operation Dignity. Salah Bulghaib of Military Intelligence's group — which also took Baraghathi's side — was branded as a militia and dissolved by Haftar. The Presidency Council (PC) confirmed the assassination incident and called for it to be investigated.
The Libya Prospect notes that the Awagir tribe has been at odds with Haftar for some time and that the assassination attempt could exacerbate the situation. Most meetings of the tribe have supported Barghathi and the tribe has threatened to withdraw their members from Haftar's forces. The Military Intelligence Commander Salah Abu-Lagheeb claimed that the HoR Interior Minister ordered a force of Barghathi's Tank Battalion "204" and the second Salafi Battalion to retreat from areas where the Haftar forces are confronting the Defend Benghazi Brigades, who are advancing towards Benghazi to aid the remaining Shura Council Forces there.


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