Libyan national forces stand firm behind Haftar

Reda Shaaban , Saturday 22 Jun 2019

File Photo: General Khalifa Haftar speaks during a news conference in Abyar, east of Benghazi May 31, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Participants in the Libyan National Forces Conference in Cairo on Monday expressed their support for the Libyan National Army (LNA) in its fight against terrorism and criminal militias in Tripoli.

In the conference’s closing statement they urged the LNA to accelerate the liberation of the Libyan capital and eliminate crime and terrorism there. They condemned the alliance between the militias and the Chairman of the Libyan Presidency Council Fayez Al-Sarraj, whom they hold responsible for the deterioration of the situation in Libya. They also denounced Qatar and Turkey for supporting the militias and for transferring terrorists and mercenaries from war zones in Syria and Iraq to the Libyan capital in order to impede the progress of the Libyan National Army.

The Libyan National Forces Conference was attended by more than 200 Libyan politicians, tribal leaders, lawyers, political experts and journalists. They met in Cairo on Monday morning to support the LNA’s campaign to combat terrorism, extremism and militias.

The conference was organised in reaction to an initiative by Fayez Al-Sarraj, prime minister of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). The initiative, which he claimed would resolve the Libyan crisis, calls for a forum bringing together representatives of all national forces to agree on a roadmap. Libyan observers read this as a call to abolish the Libyan House of Representatives and side-line its speaker, Aguila Saleh. The initiative coincided with the creation of the Cyrenaica Organisation, founded by Al-Sarraj in Tunisia with the aid of representatives of some eastern Libyan tribes, in a bid to drive a wedge among those in the east who support the LNA.  

The closing statement of the Cairo conference urged militias to hand over their weapons so as to pave the way for their participation in the reconstruction of the nation following the liberation of Tripoli. 

Participants in the conference agreed, in their statement, that UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamé lacked the impartiality necessary to act as a UN mediator. His bias, they said, was an obstacle to any political settlement of the Libyan crisis and a more neutral figure was needed.

The statement closed with an appeal to the LNA’s leadership to secure control of the nation as soon as possible, to empower legitimate civilian institutions and ensure that these are free to exercise their duties in an atmosphere of security and stability.

“The Libyan people are looking forward to Libya becoming an independent, sovereign and united state,” said Al-Ojeili Al-Barini, chairman of the Supreme Council of Libyan Tribes and Cities.

“The militias that support terrorist organisations are responsible for obstructing the Libyan army’s efforts to liberate Tripoli,” he stressed, adding that “foreign interventions in Libyan domestic affairs have undermined the country’s security and stability.”

Colonel Belaid Al-Sheikhi, advisor to the LNA General Command, said: “The terrorist Muslim Brotherhood and other agents of Qatar and Turkey in Libya are finished. Libyan tribes and all patriotic people support the LNA in its battle to liberate Tripoli from terrorism.

“The Libyan army is fighting terrorists, criminal gangs and militias in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Libya can only be governed by the Libyan people. Our country will be freed from the clutches of terrorism, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda affiliates and other extremists. The LNA will persist in its battle against terrorism and extremism throughout all of Libya.”

Former interior minister Saleh Rajab lauded Egypt as a pillar of support for the Libyan people and the whole Arab region and expressed his gratitude to President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi for his unrelenting support for the Libyan people.

Commenting on Al-Sarraj’s initiative, Rajab stressed all patriotic forces present at the conference rejected the move which they regarded as a “Muslim Brotherhood tool” created by Turkey and Qatar. The latter was described as “the official sponsor of terrorism and extremism in Libya” by Mahdi Saleh Bashir, representative of the southern zone.

The Warfala tribal council, in its statement, added that it was ready “to join all citizens in undertaking their patriotic responsibility to end the crisis in Libya by means of committees to foster communications between the various Libyan tribes and cities, to inject fresh blood and to correct past mistakes.”

As one of Libya’s largest tribal confederations, the Warfala, which is based in Beni Walid, has branches extending through the east and south. Its members will not have forgotten the massacre perpetrated by Misrata militias against the tribe in Beni Walid in 2014. The militias have been charged with carrying out the notorious Resolution 7, adopted by the extremist, Islamist-oriented General National Congress.

The tribes of Tarhuna also released a communiqué last week reaffirming their “firm and resolute” support for the LNA, under the command of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, in its battle to free Tripoli of terrorism. Tribal elders and notables from the western zone visited the battle fronts in the vicinity of the capital as well as the Flood of Dignity operations room to demonstrate their support.

Earlier this month, the Mashashiya tribe added its voice to the chorus of tribal support for the Flood of Dignity campaign “to rid the capital of criminal militias and terrorist groups”.

The Mashashiya announced that they had mustered an auxiliary force, the Mountain Lions, under the command of Ali Al-Mashay, to support the LNA in Tripoli. The Mashashiya is the largest western Libyan tribe, with branches in al-Uweiniya, Al-Shaqiqa, Tripoli, Sirte and Fezzan. Their decision to join the campaign was inspired by the desire to restore the rule of law and pave the way for a return to their homes. According to Al-Taher Dau, chairman of the Mashashiya Shura and Wisemen’s Council, militias from Zintan forcefully expelled Mashashiya people from their homes in Al-Uweiniya soon after the outbreak of the Libyan revolution on 17 February 2011.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 June, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: 'The LNA will presist'

Short link: