Bashagha at ECFR: We Reject Operation IRINI as it Aims to Block Legitimate Support to GNA – Al Marsad

Boycotting member of the House of Representatives of Misrata and Minister of Interior of the Government of National Accord Fathi Bashagha, discussed on Thursday the latest developments in the Libyan situation with participants at a video conference organised by the ECFR think tank.

[Libya, 1 May 2020] – During his video conference organised by the think tank European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) Fathi Bashagha described the  “advancements” achieved by the GNA forces over the Libyan National Army (LNA) which he described as “illegitimate”, as reported by the GNA interior ministry’s media office.

GNA’s Interior Minister expressed his rejection of Operation IRINI in its current form. He said: “Operation IRINI aims to block legitimate support sent to the GNA, while it refrains from blocking arms sent to Haftar by land and by air.”

He added: “Haftar’s violation of the Libyan people has failed, and states that are trying to devastate Libya’s stability and violating international law by arming illegitimate militias must be stopped due to these military actions led by Haftar and his militias.”

The minister also informed participants about the latest reforms that the Foreign Ministry implemented in order to reinforce the security sector, stressing the importance of enhancing EU partnership with Libya in the security sector.

It is noteworthy that the event was organised by European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) where Tarek Megerisi is a policy fellow. Megerisi is known for his pro-GNA articles for ECFR and it is not clear whether in the discussions on security reform the participants had a chance to query Bashagha on the violence and human rights violations that occurred in Surman and Sabratha and the lack of coherent security infrastructure in Tripoli.

Key criminal figures and UN-sanctioned terrorists appeared alongside GNA forces when both cities were overrun including the release of over 600 hardcore and extremists prisoners from jail. Bashghagha had claimed that “Haftar militias” had smuggled prisoners from the Sabratha and Surman prisons, yet footage documented by international media clearly proved that those responsible were members of his GNA militia units.

A report published by pro-GNA Middle East Eye last week said: “‘The violent way in which the GNA took control of the area is totally unacceptable,’ said a businessman from Tripoli with associates in Sorman, speaking on condition of anonymity. ‘Dabbashi is part of a powerful local tribe so the GNA probably thought he had sway and was a good option to lead the attack, but everyone knows about his involvement with smuggling and other criminal activities and, because he is wanted internationally, the fact he is free to lead military operations is very embarrassing.’”

Furthermore, the GNA has hired over 5,000 Syrian militants with the help of Turkey to fight alongside its militias on the frontlines. Many of the Syrian fighters are reported to have links to terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al Qaeda and Nusra Front. Additional groups of fighters have been arriving at Tripoli and Misrata on almost daily basis via Turkish airports.

The fierce clashes last week between RADA and the Ministry of Interior against the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade (TRB) were further indication that Fathi Bashagha in reality does not have control over the militias. 

REPORT: Bashagha’s Civil State Rhetoric Conceals Growing Militia Tension and Extremism

There are no indications if the ECFR will also be inviting officials representing the LNA or Libyan Parliament headed by Aguila Saleh or Prime Minister Thini’s government officials for a briefing on the Libya crisis for a more nuanced understanding for the dynamics of the conflict.

© Al Marsad English (2020)



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