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Op-Ed: Eastern Libyan commander attacks forces loyal to unity government

Rashid said that the bombing took place on Wednesday morning and that it caused material damage in northern Hun city. He said that no casualties had been reported: “The municipality and the notables of Al-Jufra are going to hold a meeting today to discuss the airstrikes on the city by Dignity Operation.” Rashid added. On Tuesday, a Haftar air force MiG fighter targeted a mission from the Misrata Military Council and other notables who were landing at the Al-Jufra airbase, killing one person and injuring others. The wounded included Ibrahim Bayt Al-Mal spokesperson for the Misrata military council. Those attacked were aboard a C-130 military transporter.

The Misrata Third Force is reported to have recaptured the key Gwirat al-Mal checkpoint on Tuesday night wresting control from Haftar’s Libyan National Army forces. The operation involved at least one airstrike. The checkpoint is just 20 kilometers north of the key southern city of Sebah on the main north-south highway. The road branches off to the Tamenhint airbase held by the Third Force. The raid would appear to show that the Misratan denial that the LNA 12th brigade of Mohamed Ben Nayel had captured the junction as the LNA had claimed was false. There have been no reports of casualties nor has the LNA said anything of the attack. At the beginning of December Nayel’s forces had taken control of the Brak Al-Shatti airbase after the Third Force withdrew. The capture by Nayel of the Gwirat al-Mal checkpoint was regarded as preliminary to a move on the Tamenhirt airbase. Nayel’s 12th brigade may lack the strength to take Tamenhurt as the Third Force is being reinforced by fighters who have finished liberating Sirte from the Islamic State.

As usal, the UN envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler simply regrets the clashes and demands that violence cease and negotiation take place. Kobler tweets: “‏@KoblerSRSG Martin Kobler Retweeted UNSMIL. Urge parties to work on local & national reconciliation; refrain from acts that may inflame the situation. #Libya” No one appears to be listening. As usual, Kobler does not mention Haftar by name nor critcize him specifically.. Several tweets discuss responsibility for the situation. Mary FItzgerald tweets: “Problem is that key actor in latest flare-up – Hiftar – has refused to meet Kobler for over a year & is dismissive of UN efforts in general.” This is true enough but In reply, Mohamed Eljarh tweets: “@MaryFitzger @KoblerSRSG problem has been lack of workable solutions and insistence on something that was never going to work. #Libya.” It seems that Kobler has always misjudged Haftar and thinks that some role can be found for him in the GNA. However, any role that could come near satisfying Haftar would probably enrage many members of the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Presidency Council (PC) The UN and most countries had agreed to the Libya Political Agreement(LPA) as the way forward. They have a lot invested in the GNA and LPA and until lately it would seem that all agreed the LPA was the way forward. It is not clear there is any way forward. It should have been evident long ago that Haftar is basically interested in a military solution through Operation Dignity and has sabotaged the dialogue and the GNA at every possible opportunity except where for pragmatic reasons such as oil exports it was in his interest to cooperate. However, he is in a very strong negotiation position after seizing the main eastern oil ports from the PFG which had a deal with the GNA. He is less likely now to accept any deal agreeable to the GNA, Presidency Council, or High State Council. An attempt at a military solution by Haftar seems more and more likely.

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