Political Observation - Reading Libya’s Reality after Haftar’s Defeats

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - Reading Libya’s Reality after Haftar’s Defeats 

Khalifa Haftar’s forces suffered a series of crushing defeats one year after he had launched his military campaign on Tripoli, bankrolled by Saudi and the UAE and backed militarily and logistically by France, Egypt, Russian mercenaries and the Rapid Support Forces of Sudan’s General Hamidati. On 25 March 2020, forces affiliated to the government of national accord (GNA) in Tripoli and backed logistically by Turkey launched operation “Peace Storm” and succeeded in seizing control of all the cities along the border strip with Tunisia.

With the collapse of Haftar’s forces on the battlefield, international positions were unanimous in throwing him a lifeline by calling for a military truce and a return to the political process which Haftar, backed by with those international forces, had suspended in the first place.

As the GNA forces laid siege to the strategic airbase of al-Wattia, from where the forces of Haftar had been launching their attacks on Tripoli, and as they succeeded in besieging Haftar’s forces main stronghold in western Libya, namely the city of Tarhunah, Haftar announced that he was willing to run the affairs of the country soon after having sought a popular mandate in a farcical move akin to the deception and fraud practised by Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt. Consequently, international and regional reactions poured in denouncing his unilateral move and reiterating their call for a truce and for preserving the political agreement concluded in the Moroccan city of al-Sukheirat and resuming its stipulations. What has been noted since the ouster of Gaddafi and up until now on the Libyan scene is the failure of any endeavour to achieve consensus on power, and the persistent chaotic situation that only serves the interests of the US, be it on the domestic Libyan plane or the plane of her agenda for Europe, Russia and the Eastern Mediterranean region.

It is also noted that most of the leaderships active on the Libyan political scene, be it from the government or the remnants of the deep state, are nothing but puppets that the US has been exclusively manipulating. As for the rest of the international and regional forces, they are merely parasites hoping to get some breadcrumbs while attempting to avert the threats arising from a failed Libyan state that may turn into a transit point for illegal migration to Europe and an incubator for “terrorism” that has plagued the Europeans after confirmation that some terrorist operations executed in Europe had been linked to Libyan-based “Jihadi” organisations.

In order to elucidate the outlook of what is occurring in Libya, it would be imperative to acquaint ourselves with the agenda America is endeavouring to achieve, in addition to the denotation of her silence over the Russian, European and Turkish intervention.

America has always been eager to aggravate the situation between the rival groups in Libya through the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), which receives bribes and guidelines from the UAE, the boobytrapped agreements such as the “political isolation” law (PIL) that has deepened the Libyan domestic rifts, the Sukheirat Agreement that has recognised the Tripoli government and the House of Representatives (HoR) that supports Haftar, and through the collusion of Fayez al-Siraj’s government to maintain the political limbo, thus lending legitimacy to Haftar and keeping the door ajar for all the probabilities that serve the agendas of the US.

Despite the recent progress of the GNA forces, the communiqué of the government, however, has paved the way for implementing the Berlin Conference’s recommendations which are destined to wipe out the achievements of the “revolution” and return the masses to the house of obedience under the command of the deep state and the fresh batch of collaborators. Even with the GNA refusing Haftar’s unilateral declaration to assume power, it has however acknowledged that peace necessitated a host of arrangements that the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission should agree upon, i.e. five military delegates representing the GNA and five others representing Haftar, under the auspices of UNSMIL. And this is what America called for in a statement on Haftar’s declaration which said ‘‘The United States regrets Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Haftar’s suggestion that changes to Libya’s political structure can be imposed by unilateral declaration.”

The US called for an immediate ceasefire and an end to all hostile activities in line with the stipulations of the Berlin talks. Meanwhile, on 27 April, the US embassy urged the militias of Haftar (LNA) to “join the Government of National Accord in declaring an immediate humanitarian cessation of hostilities leading to a lasting ceasefire as formulated in 5+5 talks under UNSMIL facilitation on February 23 in Geneva’’. Haftar responded immediately by declaring a unilateral cessation of military actions.

The aforementioned indicates clearly the US role in dictating and arranging the roles with Haftar and the government of Fayez al-Siraj, who had been compelled to launch operation “Peace Storm” due to the pressure exerted on him by the armed groups and in order to respond to the accusation of being in cahoots with Haftar, something he later stated after the finger had been pointed at him and after the success of the operation.

The fact that the Siraj government agreed to initiate the 5+5 Commission means Haftar has been given a lifeline after his position had been undermined in the wake of the defeats suffered by his forces; it also means he has been given the chance to recover, rearm and perpetuate the struggle in line with the American plan for the Libyan file on various planes including the following:

- Taming the armed groups and integrating them into state institutions in the long-term.

- Downsizing the supportive role of Turkey who exploited the international conditions and the desires of the Libyan groups who had been pressing Siraj and opposing Haftar, to shift the balance of power in favour of the Fajr Libya Forces.

This is why the Arab League awoke from its slumber and called on the “disputing parties to adhere to the political process sponsored by the UN and the world community.” The European Commission’s communiqué urged adherence to the Sukheirat Agreement and the UN Secretary General’s spokesperson called for preserving the agreement, describing it as “the sole internationally recognized framework of governance in Libya”.

The rush of international and regional actors to salvage the Sukheirat Agreement was not surprising since it has voided the “revolution” of its declared purport and lent legitimacy to Haftar by recognising the House of Representatives that support him.
As for the 5+5 Commission, which resulted from the Berlin Conference and America and Siraj had called for its launch in the wake of Haftar’s defeat, it epitomises the American tendency towards Libya conspicuously. The conference endorsed a host of guidelines to restore the central state and its system, making it the exclusive decision-maker, and monopolising the legitimate use of force without interference from the armed groups and militias with the conference recommending their disarmament, dismantlement and integration into the army and security services.

The guidelines to dismantle the armed groups is clearly directed at the “revolutionary” factions with the aim of disarming them and allowing the militias of Haftar to monopolise the use of force since he allegedly represents the Libyan National Army (LNA) based on the approval of America, Europe and Russia.

As for America’s aims vis-à-vis Turkey, Europe and Russia in the Libyan file, these are as follows:

America has been endeavouring to contain Turkey’s economic objectives to revive the major investments she lost when the regime of Gaddafi was toppled and to regain her rights to the riches of the east Mediterranean; Turkey’s concentration on her interests in Libya has undoubtedly tempted America to recapture Turkey and bring her back to the house of obedience via the Libyan file.

As for America’s decision to allow Haftar to cooperate with Russia, it is intended to incentivise competition and jostling between Russia and Europe and to keep them in a state of estrangement. Haftar’s cooperation with Russia at Washington’s behest would lead to shuffling the pack and driving a wedge between Russia and Turkey, and between Turkey and Europe as well. Consequently, America would have acquired the justification to give NATO a role in North Africa and gain an advantage over her rivals in reaping Libya’s oil riches.

As for Operation IRINI that Europe hastened to launch with no mandate from the UN Security Council and with the Libyan government averse to it, its main role is to carry out inspections of vessels suspected of carrying weapons to Libya; as for transporting weapons and foreign fighters by land and air, IRINI contents itself by aerial monitoring without having any executive mechanism to stop arms trafficking from the UAE, Egypt and Jordan, be it via the Egyptian borders with Libya, or from Abu Dhabi by air over Saudi airspace and to the Jordanian airport of al-Aqabah, and from there, to the airbase of al-Khadim in eastern Libya. Hence, it is clear that the purpose of Operation IRINI is halting Turkish military aid coming by sea and subsequently laying siege to the GNA forces and shoring up Haftar’s forces. As for France’s remarkable keenness that eclipsed other EU countries and her enthusiasm to back America’s agent Haftar, it aims in the first instance to deepen the failure of the “revolution” lest its success should embolden the African nations thus impacting negatively on French interests on the continent, notwithstanding the migration and “terrorism” files, and the investment and redevelopment file. The French intervention is also driven by leadership ambitions and the desire to get hold of a host of trump cards that would enable France to act as a custodian of European interests. This is why France, Germany and Italy competed with one another to attract Libyan leaders and organise conferences to review the Libyan file. Meanwhile, America turned a blind eye to their meddling in order to lend some legitimacy to Haftar; she also kept silent over Russia’s intervention in order to demonise her among the people of the region and to intimidate Europe by Russia’s incursions into areas of European Interests in North Africa, and thus justify the role of NATO.

What we can conclude from reading the Libyan situation is that the US, despite feigning her absence from the Libyan scene to keep her hands clean from the dirty work and leave it to her agents, and in order not to risk tarnishing her image by siding with a depraved character and a criminal like Khalifa Haftar, she left it to Russia and France to back him and is behind the bloody situation and all the Libyan warring factions; she has designed this chaos to achieve her aims and incited Haftar to attack Tripoli. Haftar, in fact, admitted this and boasted about having received the green light to attack Tripoli from John Bolton.

Despite the efforts that Russia and the European states have made, they have, however, all failed in imposing their conditions on Haftar who refused to sign a ceasefire agreement in Moscow, flouted all the resolutions of the European conferences and complied only with the dictates and guidelines of America through Egypt, Saudi and the UAE.

Therefore, the Libyan situation is heading towards more complications and bloodiness now that America has placed the people of Libya between the devil and the deep blue sea: either Haftar’s unilateral rule under the menace of siege and weapons or Haftar’s rule via an extended GNA which will kill off their hopes of liberation. 

The speed with which events are unfolding and of the international reactions are mere political manoeuvring aimed at diverting attention away from reality and biding time to salvage Haftar and unleashing him to perpetrate his crimes on the Muslim people of Libya. There are no signs of any international initiative to conjure up a political solution soon, especially as the formula proposed by influential powers in the Libyan file stipulated the possibility of breaching the ceasefire and returning to war; the participants in the conference announced that they would refrain from carrying out any military deployments or operations as long as the ceasefire was respected. 

Finally, the children of our Ummah in Libya ought to realise that although Khalifa Haftar is merely a cheap collaborator, he is however not immune from dismissal by his employers. However, the fact that he continues to be backed politically by America and France, and militarily and financially by the Gulf States and the mercenaries from Sudan and Russia indicates that he will continue to perpetrate his crimes and our people in Libya will continue to suffer. What makes it easier for foreign and domestic powers to back Haftar is the collaboration of Fayez al-Siraj himself with America and his reluctance to take decisive actions which could have settled the battles in Tripoli and the western and southern areas a long time ago. 

Hence, the Muslims in Libya should seize the initiative and refuse to comply with the dictates of the commanders linked to the forces of Kufr. They should deal with Haftar away from political negotiations and the policy of pliancy which have led Haftar to act in a ghoulish manner and emboldened his sponsors to kill and displace the Muslims and destroy their properties with the help of America and the West, which every political observer analysing events in a sound manner can perceive. They should avoid division and remain united in standing up to the puppets of the Kufr forces and their paymasters who do not respect any tie or any obligation to protect the believers. 

“O you who have believed! If you help the cause Allah, He will help you, and will make firm your steps; but as for those who are bent on denying the truth, ill-fortune awaits them, since He will let all their deeds go to waste; this, because they hate what Allah has bestowed from on high and thus He causes all their deeds to come to nought.” [Mohammed -7,8,9]

10 Ramadhan 1441h
3 May 2020