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Op-Ed: Libya Herald report claims that Tripoli government ‘vanished’

The Libya Herald is usually opposed to the GNC. An article by Saber Ayyub begins: The self-styled National Salvation government appointed by the rump of the General National Congress and led by Khalifa Ghwell has not so much collapsed as completely vanished. Ghwell left Tripoli last night for Misrata. The prime ministry on the Sikka Road was taken over yesterday afternoon by members of Presidency Council’s Temporary Security Committee. Its files and computers were sealed. Other reports also note that the prime ministry office was taken over.

The Libya Observer, usually pro-GNC, has no coverage at all of the most recent events. It does, however, have a report on changes that the Grand Mufti wants to the LPA before he finds it acceptable. One has to do with the definition of “terrorism.” A key change would sideline Haftar and other former members of Gadaffi’s army: Sheikh Al-Gharyani also called for amendment to the security arrangement article so that it excludes killers and oppressors who shed the innocents’ blood, in reference to Khalifa Haftar and his army. Such an amendment would infuriate Haftar supporters and would never be passed.

The Herald article claims a Misrata source said that elders from the city as well as members of its military council went to Tripoli and met with Ghwell the GNC PM and told him he had to give up. Misrata is Ghwell’s home and the report claimed he returned to Misrata with the delegation. The source also said: The Misratans also reportedly visited Martyrs’ Square where Misratan militia leader Salah Badi had been holding an anti-Serraj demo. “ They told him to go home,” said the source “and he did”. There is a considerable amount of psychological warfare going on and until other sources verify this account it remains unsubstantiated. Even so, the GNA is meeting with the Central Bank head, who is cooperating with the GNA in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to disrupt financial services and starve the GNC of funds.
Many of the GNC members will have jobs within the State Council that is part of the GNA. Giving in is not really an entirely losing proposition, especially when compared with having no means to have your salary paid. The Herald report also says Abu Sahmain, president of the GNC, also is thought to have gone home to Zuwara to the west of Tripoli. One person who did not go to meet with Serraj was the Grand Mufti Al-Ghariani.

Sahmain did make a statement. Surprisingly it is not yet reported by the Libya Observer but only by the Herald which called the statement unusually mild. However, he did describe the Tripoli arrival of the Presidency Council of the GNA as an “illegitimate coup”. He claimed that there had to be more national agreement and disputed issues solved before the GNA would have legitimacy. He strongly condemned the attack on the pro-GNC TV station that closed it down, as well as an attack on a member of the GNC administration Abu Zakok. He called for self-control by all sides and avoidance of violence. It seems the statement was on behalf of the GNC.

Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) congratulated Faiez and the Presidency Council on their work and noted their meetings in their headquarters. Surprisingly Kobler noted that he had just returned from Istanbul where he made met with a number of parties and also Abdelhakim Belhaj: Kobler confirmed that he had just returned from Istanbul where he had met with members of political parties including Belhaj where he said he urged them to use their influence to call for the peaceful transition to the GNA.
Belhaj is a radical Islamist. Meeting with him will be viewed with considerable suspicion by Haftar and his Operation Dignity supporters.

Perhaps the HoR will also decide to capitulate. All the members of the HoR will have jobs, as the HoR is the legislature of the GNA. It is not clear what the status of General Haftar is at present except that he is still head of the LNA when according to the LPA he should not be. Nevertheless, the Justice and Construction Party of the Muslim Brotherhood supports the GNA. This will make Haftar and supporters of his Operation Dignity quite wary of giving power to the GNA. One never knows what the next day will bring in Libya. Perhaps the vanished GNC will magically reappear tomorrow.

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