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Op-Ed: Libyan government slams UN criticism of military campaign

The HoR completely rejected the accusation by the UNSMIL and special envoy, Bernardino Leon, that the military action launched by commander of the Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar named Operation Doom, was a deliberate attempt to derail the dialogue process taking place in Skhirat Morocco. The UN has repeatedly asked that both sides refrain from any military action against each other during the talks. The UN press release claimed that the operation was a deliberate attempt to undermine the peace process.

Khalifa Haftar, has been carrying out Operation Dignity since May 2014 designed to rid Libya of Islamists. However, Haftar considers all Islamists terrorists and this includes supporters of the General National Congress(GNC) based in Tripoli. An HoR spokesperson said: “We are very surprised by the UNSMIL statement from Bernadino Leon and do not accept it. The army is fighting IS terrorists in Benghazi, who do not believe in civil government. And the people are supporting the army”.
The HoR is correct that some of those they are fighting are terrorists. The Islamic State fighters are terrorists opposed not only by the GNC government but even by the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries the umbrella group of Islamists whom Haftar is also fighting. This group is supported by the GNC government. The attack on them may already have resulted in the GNC withdrawing its negotiators from the talks. The head of the HoR air force Al Jaroushi also said when Operation Doom was announced that the operation would move on to take Tripoli and Misrata and other cities in the area controlled by the GNC when Benghazi was regained. The HoR should be surprised that the HoR is not also being roundly condemned for supporting Operation Dignity and Haftar.

The year-long conflict in Benghazi has resulted in a humanitarian disaster with hundreds of thousands fleeing the conflict and parts of the city reduced to rubble by constant bombardment and artillery fire with neither side showing concern for civilian casualties. Haftar’s forces have suffered significant casualties whenever they have attempted to retake more of the city. At one time the Shura Council group had control of almost all the city whereas now most of it is controlled by Haftar and the HoR government.

Haftar has always supported a military solution to the two-government problem vowing to defeat the Libya Dawn forces associated with the GNC government. He has never accepted any agreement negotiated by Leon and has often tried to disrupt the peace talks. He would like to see Libya run by a military council after the mandate of the HoR runs out near the end of October. A recent demonstration in the city of Ajdabiya opposed Haftar’s plans to set up such a council. The commander of the militia that guard the oil ports has also come out in opposition to Haftar even accusing Haftar of attempting to assassinate him. There seems little hope of peace in Libya any time soon. Haftar was previously a CIA asset and worked for them in Chad. He is a US citizen now: The C.I.A. had to airlift Haftar and three hundred and fifty of his men to Zaire and, eventually, to the United States. Haftar was given citizenship, and remained in the U.S. for the next twenty years.

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