Libyan Air Force chief criticizes Defence-Minister designate of Government of National Accord

The chief of the Libyan Air Force, Saqir Al-Jroushi, claims that the Defence Minister-designate of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) could be arrested after visiting foreigners in Tunisia without permission of his commander-in-chief.

Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi, is the Defence Minister-designate. Although he is involved with Haftar's Operation Dignity designed to rid Libya of Islamists including those who supported the rival General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli, he is not liked by General Khalifa Haftar, the commander in chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA). Both Haftar and Al-Jroushi were named to be subject to EU sanctions last July but there was no action taken even though both reject the GNA. At the same time, Abdulrahman Suweihli, a Misrata businessman, was also to be sanctioned. Now, he heads the State Council, but since he supports the GNA now he need not worry about sanctions. Apparently, Haftar and Al-Jroushi need not worry either since they have too much power.
On Ainabaa TV, Al Jroushi said that Al-Barghathi would be apprehended if he passed through any checkpoints in Benghazi since he has abandoned the LNA and Haftar: "Nominating Al-Barghathi for the defense minister post is aimed at cracking the firmly united army in Benghazi. He will not be able to return to Benghazi again and his fate will be like that of Mohammed Al-Hijazi, the former Dignity Operation spokesman.”Al-Jroushi also noted that a key Gaddafi-era figure, Al-Tayeb Al-Safi, had met with Khalifa Hatar on Saturday at his headquarters in Marj and spoke out in support of Haftar and the army. He said he would encourage people to join Operation Dignity. Al-Jroushi said: “Al-Tayeb Al-Safi has got problems in Tripoli that date back to February revolution times, but he is now in his country and among his people, and it is possible that he goes on trial after the state of Libya is established.”
Al-Jroushi said of the PM of the GNA, Faiez Serraj, that if he treats the army incorrectly he could be considered a terrorist but: "He will be welcomed with open arms if he supported the “army” with weapons and if he reactivated the exportation of oil." Al-Jroushi said the situation in Tripoli the political situation is back to square one after Al-Swelhi was elected head of the State Council. He claimed to be contact with individuals in Tripoli who are opposed to Swelhi and loyal to Haftar who are receiving money and arms support.
Tomorrow, the House of Representatives (HoR) is to meet to give a vote of confidence in the GNA and also amend the constitutional declaration of 2011. According to the Libya Herald, there is a third item on the agenda, a statement condemning the EU sanctions against the HoR president Ageela Saleh. There is no mention of article 8 of the Libyan Political Agreement that takes away the position of commander in chief from Haftar and assigns it to the presidency council. Nor is there any mention of a meeting of the Political Dialogue Committee to discuss the recent formation of the State Council. Given the attitude in the east to the UN-brokered GNA of Haftar and his loyal supporters, there could be fireworks when the HoR meets tomorrow.
UPDATE: The Libya Observer reports that some Haftar forces tried to apprehend Al-Barghathi at Lebreq airport but his guards managed to fend them off.


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