PM Sarraj must make a choice: Stand by those who empowered him or those who fight him

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

The Government of National Accord (GNA) is facing a critical decision that may enable the final push against ISIS or risk the chances of freeing Libya from its worst enemy, ISIS.

It has been reported for months that armed groups loyal to the GNA have been frustrated with Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj’s compromising strategy with rival General Khalifa Haftar who has done nothing for the war on ISIS but only threaten its success. With the recent exposed tapes suggesting the US, the UK and France are backing Haftar and his forces, the GNA-loyal forces are for the first time giving an ultimatum to the GNA to choose between those who fight for Libya under a united military and those who choose not to like Haftar.

Since the 2011 revolution that ended the rule of Ghaddafi, Libya has not had a unified military under a single command. During the civil war, brigades of armed volunteers sprang up around the country. These armed groups reported to local military councils, becoming de facto local governments.

Today, one of the GNA’s top priorities has been to establish a single military structure in order to effectively fight in the war on ISIS. However, for those who understand Libya, it is well known that the GNA is dependant on brigades, militias and armed groups who have asserted themselves as “guardians of the revolution” to give allegiance to the GNA and officially join the military. While it may appear that a GNA-led military is fighting in Sirte, the reality on the ground is that brigades of volunteers are giving up their lives for their country under the banner of the GNA. The largest of these groups are from Misrata, which have played the most central role in cornering ISIS in the center of Sirte.

A tone of full loyalty to the GNA is quickly changing to a demand for political recognition and influence in Libya’s evolving military. Misrata commanders are demanding a greater say and specifically an end to the GNA’s compromising position with Haftar.

“We want what we deserve. The international community should put their hands with those who really want to build Libya… There will be no place for Haftar in a Libyan army, not in 100 years,” said Mohamed Gnaidy, the chief of intelligence for Misrata’s brigade.

For months, PM Sarraj has been pressed by western countries and the eastern government to ensure that Haftar has a place in the future of Libya’s military. However, for the first time he is being forced to make a decision between external political pressure and the demands of those who have been loyal to his office and given up their lives for their country and answered his call for unity.

For more on Haftar visit our detailed analysis.

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