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article imageOp-Ed: Libyan Salvation government loses its headquarters

By Ken Hanly     Mar 15, 2017 in World
Tripoli - There were many different clashes taking place in Tripoli last night but one involved the Rixos hotel and adjacent buildings that are the headquarters of the Salvation Government and Khalifa Ghwell its leader.
Khalifa Ghwell attempted a coup against the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) last October. While he did not succeed, he and his supporters were able to take over the Rixos hotel and adjacent residences. They have even been involved in opening a power plant and of part of the repaired Tripoli International Airport.
A summary of the situation in Tripoli as of today is given by the Libya Observer. After clashes last night, the Rixos hotel is now said to be under control of the Ghaniewa armed brigade loyal to the Presidential Council (PC) of the GNA. There is no traffic and several roads are blocked and there are several security checkpoints. The Libya Herald reports that the pro-Ghwell were driven out by the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade of Haytem Tajouri who joined forces with Ghaniewa led by Abdul al-Kikli. Ghaniewa's forces are now said to be protecting the hotel and associated buildings. PM of the Salvation government, Khalifa Ghwell is reported to have been slightly injured before he and his guards retreated under heavy fire.
Since Ghwell's forces are mostly from Misrata there were allegations that Tajouri, had deliberately targeted homes of those originally from Misrata, but Tajouri has denied this. Al-Nabaa TV an opponent of the GNA but also of Haftar was attacked and burned. Some believe that Al-Nabaa is controlled by Abdulhakim Belhadj.
The Habda hospital near the Rixos complex suffered a fire in the children's ward caused by the nearby fighting. The children were being moved to the nearby Tripoli Medical Centre
The fighting in Tripoli shows that the GNA is weak but it is also weakening those associated with Ghwell who are strongly opposed to Haftar. With the retaking of the oil ports and a continuing offensive against the Benghazi Defense Brigades, Haftar appears to be strengthening his position. However, he has his troubles. According to the Libyan Observer, Haftar's Arrest and Investigation Squad led by Ahmed Gharor was ambushed in the city of Ajdabiya. Sources say that Gharor was killed among other fighters in the squad as a result.
The Tripoli clashes make it even more evident that to be successful Tripoli must solve its militia problem. The most urgent security need for the GNA is to replace the numerous militias in its area of control, especially in Tripoli, by one army and police force. Perhaps the Salvation Government will disappear from the scene at least temporarily as it has done before.
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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