(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
In a television interview on Tuesday General Khalifa Haftar stated that the decisions made by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) mean nothing to him.
“Decisions of the Unity Government are just ink on paper.”
Haftar, who is loyal to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), is a divisive figure in Libya and is pushing the country toward even more fragmentation.
In the interview, Haftar stated that he did not recognize the unity government or the decisions it makes because it did not yet obtain the HoR’s confidence.
He also said that he did not acknowledge the Presidency Council’s establishment of a Presidential Guard which is tasked with protecting the headquarters of the Presidency Council and protecting public institutions, including airports and seaports.
Hafter, who calls the militia loyal to him the National Libyan Army (LNA), stated that as the Commander of the LNA his main goal is to rid Libya of terrorists and the Muslim Brotherhood.
An article in the Washington Times today claimed that “though projecting the facade of a national institution, Gen. Haftar’s army is currently little more than a glorified militia. During Libya’s immediate post-revolution days, the transitional government at the time wanted to rein in disparate militias by having them register under the Ministry of Defense. Gen. Haftar saw this invitation as an opportunity to legitimize his army and like many other militias, registered his force through the ministry, but cunningly named it the National Army.”
The article continues to explain that in “this nominal facade, along with recognition by Tobruk, has led some in the international community to accord Gen. Haftar’s forces more recognition than other militias and, with it, an air of legitimacy. In reality, neither Gen. Haftar nor his rivals control a force that represents a united army of Libya.”
Last week, Haftar launched Operation Volcano in the coastal city of Derna in order to allegedly liberate the city from terrorism and Islamist control.
Two weeks ago Haftar also announced that he was planning a full on offensive against ISIS held Sirte, despite warnings from Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj to hold off on any separate campaigns against ISIS. However, it appears as though he is currently not the process of attacking Sirte.
Haftar ended his interview by stating that Libya will be a civil state and will not be under military control, “dictatorship will not return to Libya, and we want the army to return to its normal position, and without the army, there cannot be democracy in light of instability, chaos and militias.”
This is not the first time Haftar made such claims. On February 14, 2014, Haftar attempted the well documented 2014 Libyan coup d’état, whereby he took control of Libya’s main institutions before announcing on television that he had suspended the General National Congress, the government and the Constitutional Declaration.