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article imageOp-Ed: Prime minister of rival Libyan government sacked

By Ken Hanly     Apr 1, 2015 in Politics
Tripoli - The General National Council(GNC) members of the Tripoli-based Libyan government voted to dismiss its prime minister Omar al-Hassi. Al-Hassi has rejected the decision.
The Tripoli government, that controls much of western Libya, is a rival to the internationally-recognized government based in the eastern city of Tobruk, with its prime minister being Abdullah al-Thinni. Both governments are backed by their own military forces with the Tobruk government's forces being led by CIA-linked General Khalifa Haftar, who failed in a coup attempt he started in February 2014. He started his Operation Dignity in May last year attacking Islamist bases in Benghazi and also burning the Libyan parliament in Tripoli. At the time the now prime minister of the Tobruk government was prime minister of the interim government attacked by Haftar. Now the same Al-Thinni appointed Haftar as commander of his armed forces. The Tripoli government is supported by an umbrella group of militias called Libya Dawn.
The GNC administration claimed the move was made due to requests from administration officials and also allegations by an auditor that were not specified. Another report, claims that he was fired for failing to tackle corruption. Al-Hassi said he was surprised by the announcement and said that the GNC did not act within the constitution in firing him. Hassi said that he would consult with jurists and also with the armed militias who support the Tripoli government to determine if they support his being fired. Hassi said that: “I will comply with this decision if my revolutionary partners agree."
A New York Times article gives more details on the reasons why Hassi was sacked and it also portrays Hassi as a thorn in the side of the UN negotiators. The New York Times is frequently a mouthpiece for White House views and propaganda but no doubt the article shows the pressure that has been put on the Tripoli authorities to compromise to reach a deal. There is nothing evident in public about any similar pressure for the Tobruk government to get rid of Haftar. According to the Times article, 14 of Hassi's ministers had demanded he be fired. Government officials claimed that Hassi had reported more government revenue than it actually had and failed to meet the government payroll. But there were external factors involved.
The article goes on to claim that western diplomats working to help resolve the Libyan conflict regarded Hassi as preventing compromises in the interests of peace. The diplomats, anonymous of course, also claim that Hassi's name was on list of those who could be targeted by international sanctions for blocking the peace progress. The article does not suggest that perhaps General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan armed forces of the Tobruk government, is on that list. Haftar started the whole conflict to a considerable extent when, as mentioned earlier, he launched what the then government called a coup attempt in February of 2014. Later in May he attacked two Islamist bases in Benghazi and burned down the parliament as he began what he calls Operation Dignity, designed to purify Libya of Islamists. He convinced the UAE and Egypt to bomb Tripoli on his behalf a number of times. During recent peace talks he bombed Tripoli before one set of talks and then bombed the one remaining Tripoli airport again when the talks were to resume causing the Tripoli representatives to be late. When the talks began he began an offensive against Tripoli with the blessing ot the Al Thinni government. Haftar has condemned the peace dialogue as talks with terrorists. As shown in the appended video the Tobruk government wants a UN arms embargo lifted to deal with the threat of the Islamic State. However, while Tripoli withdrew from attacking the eastern oil fields, Haftar allies mounted an attack on Tripoli , while Tripoli forces are busy fighting the Islamic State in Sirte. Yet it is Al-Hassi who is on the UN sanctions list. Haftar will use any arms he receives not just to attack the Islamic State but the rival Tripoli government. No doubt now that Egypt's el-Sisi will receive $1.3 billion from the US in suspended military aid, as Obama just announced, Egypt can help Haftar out as well.
UPDATE: The Libya Dawn militia told Hassi he should step down and so he has avoiding further inner conflict.
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
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