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article imageOp-Ed: New Libyan prime minister appointed by GNC in Tripoli

By Ken Hanly     Aug 25, 2014 in Politics
Tripoli - The outgoing Libyan parliament or General National Congress (GNC) met today and elected a new prime minister. The GNC claims to have replaced the House of Representatives.
The new prime minister Omar al-Hassi has been given the task of forming a "salvation government". Al-Hassi is a political science lecturer at the University of Benghazi. The local TV station, Alharar, said that 94 politicians attended which meets the minimum requirement for a quorum.
The Zintan militia an ally of CIA-linked General Haftar had opposed the old parliament and had even attacked and burned its site in Tripoli, as well as kidnapping a number of Islamist legislators and officials. In spite of this they were paid to protect the international airport. Don't expect much if any of this background to be laid out in future mainstream reports which I expect will be finally covering what is happening.
Now the Zintan militia apparently have lost control of the airport area to the Misrata militia and an umbrella group Libyan Dawn.The largest anti-Haftar grouping is the Libyan Shield. Anti-Haftar groups now seem to be taking control of Tripoli. Haftar is seeking foreign support apparently from Qatar and Egypt to bomb Islamist positions.
The anti-Haftar forces urged the CNC to convene to form a new government. They see the House of Representatives(HoR) in Tobruk as sanctioning the bombing and being behind it although the HoR claims that the aircraft involved are unidentified and does not claim responsibility for the attacks. The Wall Street Journal provides the proper language to be used to describe what is happening, except that the adjective "nationalist" will be begin to replace "renegade":It also comes as part of a backlash by Islamist factions after losing their power in parliament after June elections and in the face of a campaign by a renegade military general against extremist Islamic militias in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city. While some of Haftar's attacks were against extremist militias such as Ansar Al Sharia, he also sanctioned the attack on parliament as described earlier. It is not at all clear how much power Islamists lost in recent elections. What is clear is that anti-Islamists were instrumental in moving parliament to Tobruk instead of Benghazi. Haftar's Operation Dignity could itself be called a backlash at the failure of the forces he represents to control the democratic process which is why his allies burned parliament.
The predominating narrative you will find from now on in the mainstream press is easy to predict. The battle is between Islamists and nationalists. The story is that there was an Islamist dominated GNC, even though at the time of the election the results were trumpeted as a resounding defeat for Islamists. Here is a typical narrative titled "Why Islamists Lost in Libya and Why Nobody Should be Surprised". Now there is almost the same type of narrative about an Islamist defeateven though this time everyone was forced to run as independent candidates:Commentators say liberals will fill most seats in the new parliament, unlike the former assembly which was dominated by Islamists."According to my estimates, the Islamists have not won more than 30 seats," a Benghazi deputy, Younes Fannouch, said.He added that he believed the liberal National Allied Forces party had won more than 50 seats. Perhaps this time the narrative is closer to the truth. However, whatever the disposition of the new parliament, many representatives boycotted the meetings, and whatever the political orientation of members they are virtually irrelevant to what is happening and probably dependent upon keeping in the good graces of Haftar if they do not want to face another occupation and be kidnapped.
Ironically in Benghazi, Haftar's base, an Islamic umbrella group of militias have overtaken the military base of the special forces allied with Haftar and also most of the city except for an airfield on the outskirts. What is happening in Libya is a civil war brought upon by Haftar's Operation Dignity. At this stage Haftar's forces have seemingly lost or are losing control of Tripoli and have lost control of Benghazi. He is now enlisting foreign powers to try and turn the tide by bombing Islamist positions using foreign planes. Recent articles suggest that it is Egypt and the UAE who are providing the mysterious planes that are bombing Tripoli but that development deserves a separate article.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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