Friday, August 12, 2016

General Haftar trying to oust his opponents in Libya

General Kahlifa Haftar commander in chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) associated with the Tobruk-based government of PM Abdullah al-Thinni has completely broken off relations with the defense minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA).

Although  Al Mahdi Al-Barghathi joined Haftar's Operation Dignity, he is an opponent of Haftar who objected to his becoming defence minister in the UN-backed GNA government. Haftar opposes the GNA and its armed militias. Al-Barghathi is also an ally of Ibrahim Jadhran head of the Petroleum Facilities Guard who also supports the GNA. Jadhran has recently reached an agreement to open a number of exporting ports with the GNA.
As commander of the 204 tanks brigade, Al-Barghathi was quite popular among his troops as a commander who joined them and led them into battle. However, Haftar has now broken off all relations with him and renamed the 204 tanks brigade to the 298 tanks brigade. He appointed Abd Al-Karim Barghouti as the new leader. As well as indicating an attempt to consolidate power in the east, the move represents an escalation of the conflict between the GNA with Haftar and the House of Representatives (HoR) government. Al-Barghthi had earlier been the target of an unsuccessful assassination attempt.
In what may be part of a propaganda campaign. Ahmed al-Mesmari, spokesperson for the LNA accused the US air force bombing the Islamic State in Sirte of hitting vehicles belonging to forces allied with the GNA by mistake. Neither the US nor the GNA have commented on the accusations. Al-Mesmari claimed that Sirte would be liberated by the LNA and not by the US or any other country. However, after announcing a march on Sirte ages ago, the LNA avoided any clashes with the IS in the Sirte area. It is still fighting the remnants of the Benghazi Shura Council fighters in Benghazi and lately also the recenty formed Defend Benghazi Brigades west of Benghazi. He also is carrying out a siege of Derna, Operation Volcano,. against the Derna Shura Council of Mujahideen. The Council fighters had earlier this year been instrumental in expelling the Islamic State from Derna their former stronghold.
The PFG under Ibrahim Jadhran are reported to have repelled an attack by Haftar's forces on Zuetina oil port, about 180 km south west of Benghazi. Haftar had appointed Muftah Shagloof who led the attack as head of the PFG according to Chief of Ajdbiya Borders' Guard, Bashir Bodfairah. Bodfairah explained that the port was attacked because Haftar refuses to resume oil exports through the GNA. LNA troops are said to be just 12 kilometers east of Zuetina. Apparently, Shafloof has been given the task of occupying oil ports in the oil crescent region as well as the oil fields in Wahat, Maradah, and Zallah regions. The conflict between supporters of Haftar in the east and his opponents who support the GNA appears to be escalating.


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