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General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the LNA. Photo:

Terrorist-supported GNA breaks ceasefire in Libya

On March 9, the spokesperson for the Libyan National Army (LNA) Command, General Ahmad Mismari, said that the Government of National Accord (GNA) forces had launched a large-scale offensive against LNA positions. Arab media have also confirmed this information.

Published: March 9, 2020, 3:26 pm

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    According to journalists, the GNA forces have launched an offensive in the directions of towns Al-Wishqa and Abu Qurain. They witnessed clashes with the use of heavy artillery.

    The ceasefire agreement which broke down as a result of the GNA allied forces, coincided with the visit of the leader of LNA Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in Paris, where he intends to garner support for a political dialogue.

    A week ago, GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga said in an interview with Reuters that he “will also move to attack because there is no hope for the ceasefire”. He also declared that the GNA would “definitely” start a military offensive in coming days.

    In Libya, the confrontation between the two governments continues. One government is based in Benghazi and led by Abdullah al-Thani. This government controls most of the country – over 80 percent. It is dependent to the popularly elected House of Representatives (HoR) and its armed forces are the Libyan National Army of Field General Khalifa Haftar. It is supported by Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, France and Russia.

    Since spring last year, the LNA has been trying to liberate the capital Tripoli by maintaining that terrorists are based there. However, Tripoli is also home to the so-called National Accord Government, which is considered as recognized by the UN.

    But its legitimacy is in question, since according to the Libya Political Agreement, which was concluded in 2015, this government should have existed until 2018. This government is supported by Qatar and Turkey.

    The problem is that the GNA is made up of politicians close to the Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist organisation banned in many countries. The GNA’s power base is thus propped up by field commanders associated with terrorist groups.

    According to information which was distributed by the Sudanese media with reference to the documents of the Sudanese intelligence, al-Qaeda militants were trained in Sudan and then sent to units of Rauf Kara (RADA – Special Deterrence Force), Shaaban Khalifa Hadia (Deputy Secretary of the Libyan National Accord Government) and Osama al-Juwayli, known for his contacts in the past with Wissam bin Hamid, a military commander on the Benghazi Council of the Shura of Revolutionaries, who enabled an attack against American consulate in 20212.

    The LNA has repeatedly accused Turkey of transporting Al-Qaida fighters to Libya. This news was recently confirmed by the pro-GNA Nawasi militia from Tripoli.

    On January 8, 2020, Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan called for a truce in Libya. A few days later, the opposing forces declared their readiness to implement the truce. On January 19, participants of the Berlin conference on Libya also spoke about the importance of maintaining the truce and the UN arms embargo on Libya.

    Since then, however, GNA forces have repeatedly violated the truce by shelling LNA positions, which were forced to respond with return fire.

    Turkey has continued to violate the UN embargo by supplying the GNA with heavy weapons necessary to launch a large-scale offensive.

    Representatives of the GNA also withdrew from political negotiations on the inter-Libyan settlement in Geneva, after which UN Special Representative for Libya Ghassan Salame resigned.

    Thus, the GNA forces, with the support of Turkey, are now openly violating the truce that the international community has supported and sabotaging the peace process.

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    • LuciusAnnaeusSeneca

      Erdogan and his allies are as duplicitious in Libya as they are in Syria and on Turkey’s borders with Europe. It is likely that the Turkish forces and the jihadist mercenaries that Erdogan has sent to Libya began their offensive in hope that news of the Coronavirus and major market shifts might put it on the back page. But this is likely the start of a campaign by the GNA, with Turkish aid, to counter Haftar’s forces advancing on the capital and nearby areas still held by the GNA. The new-found aggressiveness of the GNA is probably due to the presence of the Turk-supplied military forces. However, it is likely that Haftar and the LNA have been preparing for such a contigency, so the fighting between the two sides in the conflict is thus likely to be more intense, and perhaps more widespread, than previously.

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