Thursday, February 16, 2017

Eastern commander Haftar vows to seize power in Libya

(February 4) According to the London-Based Alhayat newspaper, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar told the French Ambassador, Brigitte Curmi that he is intending to take power in Libya and is not ready to engage in a dialogue with his rivals.

Khalifa Haftar is commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) the armed forces of the House of Representatives (HoR) government. Neither Haftar nor the HoR government recognize the UN-brokered Government of National Accord(GNA). The HoR has yet to vote confidence in the GNA as required by the LIbyan Political Agreement (LPA). Last August 22 it voted against approving the GNA. Ever since, Martin Kobler the UN envoy the Libya and Fayez Serraj head of the Presidency Council have been attempting to find some way to accommodate Haftar and have him join the GNA. However, Haftar wants to remain head of any new Libyan National Army whereas the present LPA gives that power to the Presidency Council(PC). Many of the members of the GNA will not agree to Haftar keeping his role and some demand that he have no role at all. None of the many attempts at getting the HoR and Haftar to accept the GNA have solved this problem so far.
Curmi advised Haftar to sit down with his rivals and not use weapons but he refused. Curmi is said to have told Haftar: "If you use weapons, you will differ with France and the EU and you will fail."
The Observer also reports French sources claim that Egypt wants a solution that favors Haftar and is trying to reach a compromise with Serraj head of the PC. The Libya Observer is very much anti-Haftar. As the Observer mentions Haftar has in effect been trying to seize power from as far back as February 2014 when he appeared on TV to announce what was in effect a coup but it did not work. On the 16th of May 2014, Haftar began his Operation Dignity to rid Libya of Islamic terrorists or at least those who opposed him. These included many of the militias that support the GNA. A few days later his allies attacked and burned the parliament buildings as shown on the appended video. Haftar's operations have received support from the UAE and Egypt and he is now receiving some support from Russia although Russia is also keeping open connections with Serraj and the GNA.
The article in Arabic at Alhayat can be found here. Other sources such as the Libya Herald have yet to report on the interview. A tweet says: #Haftar said to the French Ambassador that he intends to take power in #Libya & he refused to engage in a dialogue with his rivals. According to a twitter exchange a French article gives a differing report. While the Observer is anti-Haftar his remarks conform to his actions. He has recently refused to talk with Serraj according to an article in early January in the Libya Prospect:
The source added that “they were supposed to discuss the possibility of forming a national unity government, ” but Haftar said that talks began with Al-Sarraj two and a half years ago with no concert(sic) results, and the current state of war requires fighting not policy.Haftar refused to meet with Martin Kobler as long ago as May last year. From the very beginning Haftar constantly tried to sabotage the Dialogue process. He was even threatened with sanctions by the EU at one time. He believes there is a military solution to the political crisis but the right time has not come yet. He has threatened to liberate Tripoli. Perhaps he can convince Trump that he, an American and former CIA asset who now is courting Russia, needs a green light to take over control in Libya.
The Observer report just confirms what previous facts have already indicated. However, key characters supporting the GNA such as Kobler and Serraj do not like to talk about the issue. They do not want to make it more difficult for them to accommodate Haftar They fail to realize that their task is not difficult. It is probably impossible.

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