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Libya Update: A Clash of Egos


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Libya has two rival governments and parliaments, as well as several militia groups aligned to both sides, and some "independent" ones, battling to control its oil wealth. 

Inexplicably for many, the only one that is recognised is called the Government of National Accord (GNA), totally unelected by the Libyan people, consisting of a handful of Ministers and headed by an architect. All of these were chosen by the UN, which also selected as Prime Minister, Faez Serraj who resides mostly in Tunis and intermittently visits Tripoli and a few other parts of Libya, dependent on the good graces of the mercenaries calling themselves Militias that get paid for their service to the GNA, underwritten for them by the UN no less.

The other Government of Abdullah Al-Thinni, who is Prime Minister as designated by the elected HoR Parliament based in Tobruk, is a former soldier. He gave an interview to AFP last weekend calling on the UN General Assembly meeting in New York this past week to bestow full and proper recognition to his administration, which he states controls most of the North African country.

However what is the intent of PM Al-Thinni and the HoR Parliament in relation to Libya’s eastern supreme military commander, who recaptured both Benghazi and the oil crescent fields, Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar?

Haftar's legitimacy is bol­stered by a number of countries including France, Egypt, and Russia, though less so now in comparison to the Kremlin's previous closer relations with Haftar.

Senior sources announced on Tuesday that HoR-appointed Field Marshall Haftar has just "launched" a campaign to declare himself President for four years without a vote.

This grass-roots pro-Haftar campaign is being unofficially launched in several towns in eastern Libya, though no comment has so far been made by Haftar himself.

The objective appears to be to collect enough support for Haftar by De­cember 17th, 2017, when a UN-bro­kered accord granting legitimacy to Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) expires.

France has elevated Haftar’s status on the world stage to that of UN-endorsed Prime Minister Serraj, with Macron saying that “like Prime Minister Serraj, 'General' Haf­tar is part of the solution” during a trilateral meeting in Paris on July 25th.

After the gathering, Macron an­nounced a ten-point agreement to the Libyan conflict allegedly agreed upon, but not signed, by Haftar and Serraj. 

To add to the confusion, PM Serraj took to State television for a two-hour interview last week. During his television appearance, he proposed a plan to resolve the crisis by organ­ising Presidential elections by March 2018 for which no doubt he will also nominate himself.

All face the prospect of the Islamic State (IS) retaking both Sirte and Sabratha, two important military strategic objectives.

When the European Union was challenged by waves of migrants using Libya as a springboard, Italy provided large financial incentives to certain "towns and individuals" to help limit migration. 

As a consequence, Mediterranean crossings dropped from nearly 28,000 peo­ple in June to below 10,000 in Au­gust, according to UN figures.

EU ministers in Brussels have failed to explain the true reason for the drop in migrant crossings, just saying “Trust in Italy!” Not what the French would say.

France’s courtship of Haftar was no doubt encouraged by the French military, which has seen Haftar’s forces ex­pand their presence in the south­ern Fezzan region, which falls into the domain of the French military’s "Operation Barkhane" in Mali and sub-Saharan Africa.

Lastly various Libyans have advanced their names to "save" Libya, even Saif Gaddafi, son of the former leader, but the most serious of them is without doubt Dr. Mahmoud Jibril, a well-educated and capable technocrat and Libya's first Prime Minister after the fall of Col. Gaddafi.

The big question is how coordinated are plans between Al Thinni and Haftar? If uncoordinated then a Libyan clash of egos will begin!

Meanwhile the UN's new Libya head of UNSMIL, Ghassan Salame, trying to assert his authority, announced last Tuesday he is sending to Tripoli 200 Nepalese Ghurka Soldiers to act as "Security Guards only" emphasizing that they are not peacekeepers, to protect the UN Facility which is adjacent to the  "Palm City Complex" presumably where the five or so men that make up the GNA will live. It should be noted, as I have emphasised in the past, that 1000+ professional Ghurkas could literally wipe out all militias in Tripoli and probably ISIS too.

Don't expect Libya's would-be leaders to make logical, rational decisions, however; those are made only when related to receiving money, as the Italians proved.
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