Salah Badi Causes Huge Embarrassment for Tripoli’s GNA – Al Marsad

Salah Badi, the internationally-sanctioned commander of the Al-Samoud Brigade, showed up in front of Al-Yarmouk Camp south of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, early on Sunday. After an absence of over three months, and efforts by leaders from GNA leaders to keep him out of the limelight, Salah Badi reappeared in a video footage with his militiamen to assert their control over Al-Yarmouk Camp.

[Libya, 22 September 2019] – This is his first public presence on the battlefield after a long period of absence, during which he only appeared once during Eid al-Adha, and, on another occasion, when he attacked the Muslim Brotherhood’s monopoly over Turkey’s military shipments in a video footage released on 20 July that was also followed by another video three days later.

Latest Media Appearance

Although the appearance of Salah Badi with his militiamen and GNA forces was to exert their control over the Al-Yarmouk Camp, the revealing point is his tacit assertion, through this video, that he is still leading the forces of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). This has already been confirmed by a number of videos, one of which was posted by the spokesperson of the Al-Samoud Battalion, Ihmaida al-Jirrow, in addition to other posts circulated by pro-Salah Badi and GNA pages on the Facebook social networking platform.

During the recent period, there has been talk in political and military circles in Tripoli by parties in the Government of National Accord (GNA) of persuading the internationally-sanctioned Badi to refrain from appearing again in public on the pretext that the opponents of the Tripoli government and supporters of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar exploit this issue to portray the forces of the UN-backed GNA as an “army” led by internationally wanted and sanctioned militiamen and smugglers. The commander of al-Samoud Brigade defied both the UNSecurity Council’s Libya Sanctions Committee and the US Treasury Department to continue the confrontation in a video appearance late last year—a few days after his name was included in the listing of the international sanctions.

His latest public appearance is certainly enormously embarrassing for the Tripoli-based GNA whose forces are fighting against the Libyan National Army (LNA).

According to the same political and military circles in Tripoli, the public appearance of Badi will cause huge embarrassment for the United States whose Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the Libyan Islamist commander at the request of the Head of the Government of National Accord (GNA) himself, Fayez al-Sarraj, as well as the UNSMIL Head, Ghassan Salamé, in November 2018. This was immediately followed by the issuance of UN Security Council’s Libya Sanctions Committee listings.

There are also indications that certain parties in the Tripoli regime have already instructed the GNA official news channels, as well as private media outlets and pro-GNA social media platforms, to ignore Salah Badi completely and refrain from highlighting any role played by him.

It is noteworthy that pro-GNA media channels and platforms have noticeably refrained from disseminating any news about Salah Badi as if he does not exist at all, except for the February TV Channel owned by the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) senior leader, Abdelhakim Belhadj, and Al-Tanasuh TV affiliated with the Dar al-Iftaa led by radical cleric Sadiq al-Gharyani.

Salah Badi Officially Listed on the UN Security Council’s International Sanctions

Bad Timing for the GNA

The timing of Badi’s latest public appearance will be a blow to the GNA given the ongoing preparations by Fayez al-Sarraj to participate in the annual meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Sarraj hopes to hold meetings on the sidelines with foreign and Western officials to explain his views and stances with regard to a number of issues. The head of the Tripoli-based GNA has been at pains to argue the “incorrectness” of the narrative of the presence of “terrorists, wanted persons, and smugglers” among his forces. This is in addition to other dossiers that Sarraj would like to bring to the attention of the International Community that has been reiterating its call for preventing the terrorists and saboteurs from joining his forces, which are misleadingly described as “the Libyan Army of the Government of National Accord.”

Social Embarrassment to Libya

Badi represents not only an international embarrassment for the Government of Tripoli, but also a social embarrassment in Libya.

Badi’s presence and influence—who called himself “the George Washington of Libya”—are abhorred by military, political and social actors alike in Libya, not only in Tripoli, where Badi burned its airport when he led the Libya Dawn Operation in 2014—but also in neighbouring cities and regions where the Presidential Council of Tripoli seeks to establish friendly relations with such as Ben Walid (which had been devastated by Resolution No.7), Wershafana, some areas of Souq al-Juma’a, in addition to the city of Zintan. Zintan has been the most affected by Salah Badi by the dire consequences of the Libya Dawn Operation which he launched and led in 2014.

On 21 July, the Washington Post published an interview with the pro-GNA Western Military Zone Commander, Osama al-Juwaili. According to the Washington Post, Juwaili “acknowledged that the Tripoli Government needs Badi and other militias.” He told the US newspaper that “they are fighting for the same cause.” However, close aides of Osama al-Juwaili rushed to decline the authenticity of the statement, asserting that the words of Osama al-Juwaili were taken out of their context.

Referring to Salah Badi’s voluntary participation in the battles in Tripoli, Juwaili told the Washington Post that “Badi was not recruited by the Government of National Accord to fight Haftar,” to suggest that he is fighting without receiving orders from anyone—and that the Tripoli Government bears no commitments or responsibilities before its partners abroad as a result of his involvement in the fighting. According to observers, it is unlikely that this questionable hypothesis can be viewed as credible by key political and military circles.

© Al Marsad English (2019)