Libya: A Government Dependent on Criminal Militias Faces Defeat

Over the past few hours, Fayez Saraj, head of the government of reconciliation in Tripoli,  realized the beginning of an international shift in favour of ending the rule of jihadist militias in Libya. For the first time since his appointment as head of the presidential council in October 8, 2015, he revealed the mentality of the besieged confronting the consequences of aligning with criminal militias.

His statements vacillated between expressing fears about the security situation, warning of a crisis of Libyan immigrants sweeping Europe if his government fell, to claims he is still able to respond to the army’s assault.

The telephone call last week between US President Donald Trump and Khalifa Haftar marked an international shift, reflecting Washington’s support for military actions to rid Tripoli of the coalition of political Islam movements backed by Turkey and Qatar.

Ahmed al-Mesmari, spokesman for the Libyan army, called the connection between Trump and Haftar a victory in the political battle of convincing the world that the armed forces were indeed fighting terrorism.

Haftar’s forces advanced towards the capital’s gates without resistance before the militia-backed government forces launched a counter-offensive. The fighting intensified yesterday after a counter-attack by the forces of the reconciliation government, especially in Ain Zara in the southern suburb of Tripoli.  But Al-Mesmari did not acknowledge any loss of ground and accused the “enemy of receiving reinforcements from al-Qaeda and the Islamic state’s foreign mercenaries.”

The diplomatic dispute continued in the UN Security Council where Britain tried unsuccessfully, with the support of Germany and France, to pass a resolution calling for a cease-fire and the opening of humanitarian corridors in the areas of confrontation. The opponents of the draft resolution, in a rare position of agreement, were the United States and Russia, one of the few times Moscow and Washington agreed on a position in foreign policy, especially with regard to an Arab state.

Libyan experts said that Al-Seraj was seeking a counter-attack when he suggested that his government had the strength to respond to the army and maintain control of  the city, especially Tripoli airport, suggesting to the international community that his government can regain the lead if there is a shift in the international position in his favour.

Fayez al-Saraj, the “non-consensual” president of a “non-national consensus” government, suffers from multiple schisms based on field developments in the army’s battle for the liberation of Tripoli, which has stripped him of the last vestiges of legitimacy.

Political observers point out that the threat of the danger of the flow of migrants to Europe is a tactic used by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to blackmail the EU countries, revealing the coordination between Ankara and Tripoli. Seraj’s threats to export terrorism and migration from Libya to Europe will only serve to push Europeans to support the Libyan National Army in Tripoli  to end the chaos.

The Libyan National Army have demonstrated their competence in controlling security, ending the presence of terrorist groups and restoring stability. The request of the Security Council to send an investigative mission would only provide legal cover for a biased party sponsored by the “UN-recognized government,” which would strengthen Islamist groups behind the instability which the country has been suffering for years.

The militias in Tripoli now live in a state of rupture under the blows of the army, and have lost the power of the caliph. They know that their reign is at an end and they have no role in Libya’s future.

As the fighting rages around Tripoli, the decisive hour is near. Al-Seraj failed in all the tasks he undertook, and in the implementation of even one item of the political agreement  which led him to the presidency of the government of reconciliation.

He ignored the most important clause in that agreement, which was the security arrangement that provided for the dissolution of militias, when he allied with them and conspired to conceal their terrorist acts.

Al Arab