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article imageEgypt hosts meeting to plan intervention in Libya

By Ken Hanly     May 13, 2015 in Politics
Tripoli - An unpublicized meeting of Arab military chiefs of staff will take place in Cairo on May 18 and is designed to coordinate plans for an intervention in Libya. France and Italy may also play a part in any intervention.
The report is from an Arab League source in Defense News but can also be found in McClatchy.
The meeting includes not only high-ranking military officials from Egypt but also from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Sudan and the Libyan Tobruk government. Notice that there is no representation from the rival Tripoli government. The Arab League reports that talks between the head of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and Arab leaders have already resulted in arms purchases by the Libyan Army including helicopters delivered in late April from the UAE. The UAE and and Egypt were thought to be involved in earlier bombings of Tripoli and Egypt in Benghazi. There is a UN ban against the sale of arms to Libya. In addition to the helicopters the Tobruk government has bought anti-tank and armour-piercing weapons and munitions. Talks are ongoing with France and Italy to participate. France would supply logistic support and special forces and Italy will provide naval support.
The two former regional colonial powers are going to help out CIA-linked, Khalifa Haftar, in a civil war to defeat not just the Islamic State, which both governments are fighting, but also the rival Tripoli government with its militia the Libya Dawn. The negotiations for a unity government that the UN has sponsored since last September are supposed to reach an agreement by June 17, but it is not clear how that can take place when Haftar has consistently claimed that he will not talk with the Tripoli militia. He believes in a military solution and it appears he may get it. While all this is happening, the US and many European countries are still publicly touting a political solution through the formation of a unity government.
In a joint statement, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Britain and the US warned that the energy and financial institutions should in effect remain neutral in the conflict between the two governments and supported the UN peace negotiations for a unity government: They said that as hopes of a peace deal brokered by the United Nations were rising, "we express our concern at attempts to divert Libyan resources to the narrow benefit of any side in the conflict and to disrupt financial and economic institutions that belong to all Libyans."
Notice there is no mention of who is doing what. The internationally-recognized Tobruk government has formed its own oil company and intends to export oil through it rather than the Libyan National Oil Company. They have also attempted to fire the head of the National Bank and Haftar seized a branch in Benghazi. Italy and France signed this declaration at the same time as they are making plans for military intervention with the Arab League.
Egypt is also holding a forum for Libyan tribes which will be designed to get their support in helping to coordinate the operation and guarantee the safe passage of Arab troops. The forum is said to be designed to "unify the Libyan people". Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Badr Abdelatty, stressed the tribes were important to restoring stability in Libya by supporting Libya's "legitimate institutions' such as the House of Representatives and the legitimate government. This is meant to gain support for the Tobruk government not to unify the people through political negotiation to form a unity government agreeable to both conflicting parties. It is a recipe for outright civil war.
Naturally, there is a line-up of analysts to promote the Arab intervention including, Theodore Karasik, a Gulf-base analyst who says:"The threat from the Islamic State not only in Libya but also in Western Egypt is getting to be too great, so action is required. It is important to point out that after the Cairo meeting is a forum hosted by Justice First in the Egyptian capital that will bring together many of Libya's tribes to achieve a new unity that will act as a force multiplier for the Egyptian-led campaign." Notice that there is no mention of the Tripoli government. This is all just an operation against the Islamic State. Mimicking Sisi in Egypt and his former boss Gadaffi, Haftar classifies all rebels and opponents as terrorists. Any intervention would be against Tripoli as well as the Islamic State. Progress is being made it would seem not in peace talks and towards a political solution but towards a military intervention and a civil war designed to topple the rival government in Tripoli. Haftar continues to do whatever he pleases whether it contradicts UN wishes or even international law as shown by his latest act of attacking a Turkish cargo ship killing a crew member.
More about Khalifa Haftar, Egypt Libya relations, Arab league
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