The Specter of War Looms Over Libya

The Turkish regime still controls the political life in Tripoli, relying on the hordes of forces and mercenaries that it deploys in bases and camps.

Analysts fear that the latest issuance of two arrest warrants against the commander of the Libyan army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, is an attempt by the Brotherhood to circumvent the results of the political dialogue for fear of an inevitable loss that might be imposed by the results of the elections scheduled for December.

Within one week, two arrest warrants were issued by judicial authorities in the Tripoli region, against  the Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan Army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, based in the Rajma suburb of Benghazi, in the east of the country, and Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, son of the late leader Muammar Qaddafi, in the outskirts of Zintan in the western mountain bordering the southern border with Tunisia.

The two memos came at a time of uncertainty about the possibility of organizing presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for the twenty-fourth of December, and in light of fears that the country would return to violence and division as forces likely to fail in the electoral process block the implementation of military and political agreements to ensure that the situation remains as it is,  which  serves their interests and those of its regional allies, especially the Turkish regime, which controls the joints of political life in Tripoli by relying on pressure groups and legions of forces and mercenaries that it deploys in bases and camps.

Observers believe that the release of the arrest warrants against Haftar and Saif al-Islam aims to prevent their candidacy for the elections, and create confusion among their respective supporters, timed in conjunction with the last opportunity to reach a constitutional basis for organizing the elections, led by the UN mission through a the Political Dialogue Forum to choose one of four proposals referred to it by the Consensus Committee.

But it is clear that the west of the country is heading to block the way for the approval  due to a strong alliance with the Brotherhood, warlords and regional leaders in Misurata, the Turkish financial and economic lobby, and decision-makers in the Presidential Council and the National Unity Government.

Turkish intelligence set out to locate and arrest Saif al-Islam Qaddafi and end his supporters’ hopes.

The Military Prosecutor’s Office of the Ministry of Defense, whose powers are limited to the Tripoli region, issued an arrest warrant for Saif al-Islam because of his alleged “involvement in murders and his use of mercenaries”, which are the same charges previously attributed to him,  in a memo to security and military agencies, including the Military Police Department, Military Intelligence Department, General Intelligence and General Intelligence Service,  Deterrence to Combat Terrorism and Organized Crime, Stabilization Support Agency,  Internal Security Agency, and the Ministry of Interior, most of which are militia agencies that have been integrated into the institutions of the former Presidential Council. It also permitted the use of military and security agencies within the jurisdiction of the person’s whereabouts to implement this order.

It is noteworthy that the date of this directive was issued on the day following  the meeting held by the Prime Minister of the Interim Government of National Unity and Minister of Defense Abdul Hamid al-Dabaiba with the Supreme Council of Military Judiciary, in the presence of the Chief of General Staff of the government, Lieutenant-General Muhammad al-Haddad, to discuss the obstacles facing the work of the Council. Dabaiba addressed the meeting, “I came here to hear from you, to study with you and to support you, and the goal is to achieve the right,” and continued, “We will not be a state that oppresses its children, and neglects its right to the oppressors.”

Dabaiba met with the Supreme Council of Military Judiciary a few days after the interview with Saif al-Islam published by the New York Times newspaper, which confirmed that he is alive and well, and lives in a hidden place near Zintan under the heavy guard of the Revolutionary Brigade that arrested him in  Al-Gharbia in November 2011, and supervised his security at his detention until his release in June 2017, by a decision of the Minister of Justice in the interim government emanating from Parliament, in implementation of the general amnesty law announced by the House of Representatives, which is not recognized by the Tripoli authorities.

Those interested in the Libyan affairs point out that the issuance of two arrest warrants against Haftar and Qaddafi within one week constitutes a coup against the political dialogue and its results.

On July 28, 2015, the Tripoli Criminal Court issued a death sentence in absentia against Saif al-Islam and eight members of the former government, including Abdullah al-Senussi, the former head of intelligence, and Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, the last prime minister, but on the twenty-seventh of last May, the Libyan Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority, ruled  to cancel the death sentence issued against Saif al-Islam and accept the appeal.

Well-informed sources in Tripoli suggested to Al Arab that the militias of Tripoli and the western region would move towards Zintan, claiming to search and search for Saif al-Islam.

And in the event of launching a campaign on Zintan, much blood will be spilled, and the security situation will return to the field of violence in the western mountain, which would   authorize the termination of the ceasefire agreement.

They added that the city of Zintan is divided against itself, between forces that support the former government, others that support the army leadership, and a third that is loyal to the Brotherhood and is organically linked to the militias of the western region led by Osama al-Juwaili, and that the tribal leaders succeeded on several occasions in defusing the internal confrontations between these contradictory parties.

However, sources confirmed that the Turkish intelligence launched investigations a while ago to determine the headquarters of Saif al-Islam, through monitoring and follow-up in the areas separating Zintan and Hamada al-Hamra. Most of the tribes still declare their loyalty to the former government.

Internal and external parties who visited Saif al-Islam with their covered  and under heavy guard, estimated his residence to be about 17 km south of Zintan.

A number of members of the Political Dialogue Forum, Abd al-Rahman al-Swehli, and members of the State Consultative Council, such as its president Khaled al-Mashri, stressed that there is no room for Saif al-Islam or Haftar to participate in the presidential elections, and that the victory of either of them will push towards a new civil war and the division of the country.

The head of the Central Military Prosecution in Misurata, Miftah Ahmed Badi, asked the Military Police and the Director of the Police and Prisons Department to arrest Haftar and a number of other people.

A letter addressed by Badi to the Director of the Police and Prisons Department included a reference to Case No. 18/2020 (L.T) and the ongoing investigations in it, which confirm the necessity of arresting Haftar, his office manager Abdul Karim Hadiya, Major General Muhammad Tuhaish, Major Saddam Khalifa Haftar, and Lt. Colonel Nabil Al-Hahab The detainees were referred to the Central Military Prosecution Office as soon as possible.

On the other hand, Major General Ahmed Al-Mesmari, spokesman for the General Command of the National Army, considered that such actions are provocative and malicious methods, the aim of which is to spoil the path led by the 5 + 5 Joint Military Committee, and to obstruct the electoral process scheduled for the end of the year.

Al-Mesmari added that the Brotherhood is afraid of the upcoming elections after their fall in the previous municipal elections, pointing out that the arrest warrant is an attempt to create malicious obstacles in front of Field Marshal Haftar, who according to his estimation, destroyed the Brotherhood’s project.

Libyan circles indicate that the issuance of a seizure against Haftar and a number of those close to him, including his office manager and his son, is an absurd and showy movement, given the impossibility of its implementation, but it proves the existence of parties behind them to confirm that the ceasefire does not mean an end the cold war between the west and east of the country, which means pushing for a new war that the Tripoli authorities are planning, despite the prime minister’s assurances on several occasions that there is no war.

The same sources add that Turkey, which received the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity, where he met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and before him with the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Intelligence,  is now tightening its grip on the situation in Tripoli, and exercising its authority over the security and military services to serve its agendas and the interests of its local allies. And it benefits from the weak performance of the UN mission and the absence of sufficient international pressure to lift the hand of foreign interventions on the Libyan reality.

The forces of political Islam and their allies are heading to a confrontation with  international pressure to organize the elections on the specified date by exporting a constitutional rule that prevents those wanted, whether the local or foreign courts, from running, and in the meantime, they spare no effort in working to spread new chaos to prevent the organization of elections and force their postponement.

The past week witnessed several indications of the return of the public confrontation between the Tripoli authorities represented by the Presidential Council and the government with the army command in the west of the country, on the sidelines of the commemoration of the eighty-first anniversary of the founding of the Libyan National Army, while the United States confirmed through its ambassador to Libya and its special envoy Richard Norland that they are betting on Field Marshal Haftar in unifying the military establishment.

During the past two days, Cairo hosted meetings between Haftar and Norland, and the US embassy said that “the United States supports the right of the Libyan people to choose their leaders through a free and fair democratic process and calls on key figures to use their influence at this crucial stage to do what is best for all Libyans.”

Those interested in the Libyan affairs point out that the issuance of two arrest warrants against Haftar and Qaddafi within one week constitutes a coup against the political dialogue and its results, since the two parties have been represented at its forum since its founding session in Tunisia last November. This means that there is a plan to block the way to both the organization of elections and the recognition of results voted for by  the majority of Libyans. Not  allowing Haftar and Qaddafi to run is part of that strategy, given that the two men have a broad popular base that far exceeds the base of the current controlling centers in the Tripoli region.

Al Arab

Translation by Internationalist 360°