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article imageOp-Ed: Eastern commander threatens UN-supported government again

By Ken Hanly     Jul 1, 2017 in World
Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) associated with the House of Representatives (HoR) government based in eastern Libya gave the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) 6 months to reach a reconciliation.
If there is no agreement based upon a modification of the Skhirat Libya Political Agreement (LPA) of December 2015 then Haftar will take action to forge a military solution. In a meeting with eastern tribesmen and elders on Tuesday Haftar suggested that he would overthrow the GNA and end the suffering of the people: "December is very near. All these officials on the scene now will go down in the ash heap of history once we decide that enough is enough in Libya. Only the coming six months or even less will define what Libya would be like. We will act tough when we feel fit and we will never listen to any party."
Both Haftar and his spokesperson Ahmed Al-Mismari gave the six-month ultimatum. HoR member Ziad Daghi wanted to know exactly what was meant by the threat and why it was not carried out right away.: "Why not act now and end the suffering of the people if there are some solutions on the table? Why wait for December." Haftar said that efforts were underway to form a committee coming from all Libyan cities to study and analyse all the current initiatives to put an end to the present unrest and end the suffering of the cities. There is no mention of the LPA or a meeting of the Dialogue committee already chosen by both the GNA and HoR to discuss amendments to the LPA. The former envoy Martin Kobler was to set up a meeting but nothing ever happened and the new envoy has not yet said anything.
The last GNA government was rejected by the HoR back on August 22 of 2016 and at the time there was to be a meeting within ten days. Ten months later there is still no meeting.
Haftar said: "We have liberated the oil facilities and all the money of the oil is going for the Central Bank of Libya and for foreign entities to the best interest of certain agendas in the current fight for power in the country instead of going to ordinary people standing in lines in front of banks." One can be sure that the money also goes to fund the House of Representative (HoR) salaries and also to fund Haftar's LNA. Haftar would not allow the National Oil Company to operate if this were not the case. If there is no resolution, Haftar promises: "A force from western Libya, another from southern Libya particularly from Sabha and a third one from the eastern region will enter Tripoli."
This is just another of several earlier announcements by Haftar that he would liberate Tripoli. Back in December of 2016 Haftar called for war in Tripoli and asked groups loyal to him west of Tripoli to help him. As far back as 2015 Haftar said he was betting on a milltary solution. While he had what some described as a breakthrough meeting with head of the Presidential Council of the GNA back in May there was no real agreement that came out of it. It probably was a ruse to make it look as if Haftar would accept a political solution. Haftar was likely forced into the meeting by pressure from his powerful supporters.
The Libya Herald and mainstream media have yet to say anything about Haftar's pronouncement. Nor has the UN or the GNA. However, there are several tweets on the issue. One tweet claims: " Haftar gives politicians 6mos to end #Libya conflict. Given his successful obstruction of talks, he's really saying: do what I want in 6mos." Another says: "Hafter We already have troops inside #tripoli Our Army will enter the capital soon. We r building strong army now To make all respect #libya." Probably for now nothing much may happen. We will see what reaction if any the UN and GNA have to Haftar's threats. I expect it will be muted as more and more countries which claim that they are solely in support of the GNA are actually changing their tune including most recently France. Suddenly the LPA as the sole basis for negotiation appears to be vanishing as if it were reduced to the grin of the Cheshire Cat. Everone is now to see Haftar as part of the solution even though he has been such an obstruction to the dialogue process that he was once listed to be sanctioned by the EU back in July of 2015. Haftar claimed the sanction threats were meaningless. As often is the case, he was correct.
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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