Aref Nayed: US Ambassador Says He is Against Military Interventions, Yet Mercenaries Flock to Misrata and Tripoli Daily – Al Marsad

(Libya, 25 July 2020) Dr Aref Ali Nayed, the Chairman of Ihya Libya and Special Envoy of the Libyan Parliament, spoke to Al-Hadath al-Youm channel on Thursday on the latest developments on the Libya crisis. Al Marsad publishes here the full English transcript of the interview which was conducted in Arabic. 

Al-Hadath al-Youm: Your Excellency, Good evening. Welcome to Al-Hadath Al-Youm and on al-Hadath screen. I will start with you with the recent details. Just minutes ago, we reported on a phone call to the Speaker of Parliament with the US side. Can we understand the reasons and details of this call?

Aref Nayed: There is continuous communication between His Excellency the President of the Libyan Parliament and the US side. This has included several meetings and calls. As the US Embassy stated, this recent call touched on some points, notably the National Oil Corporation (NOC), foreign interventions in Libya, and the military tensions around Sirte and Jufra. No one in Libya can deny the importance of pumping, flowing, and exporting oil, but there are real problems in this regard. For many years, all financial resources resulting from pumping oil go to the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), which is entirely under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood. More than nine managers in the senior departments are from the Muslim Brotherhood. Siddiq Al-Kabir, unfortunately, has worked for the Muslim Brotherhood for all these years.

In addition, there is a big problem. Unfortunately, Mr. Mustafa Sanallah, the head of the NOC, claims neutrality, independence—that he is a technocrat and that he has nothing to do with politics. First, there are many fallacies. The NOC should not be independent; it must be under the Parliament’s control and oversight. The idea that there is an institution not subject to any kind of oversight or governance is a big problem.

The other problem relates to the export of oil itself. The oil is exported through certain companies only and some of these companies in Switzerland are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Even the process of selling oil is not neutral. We are demanding supervision and audit on not only the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), but also on oil exports and how Sanallah concludes these contracts. Unfortunately, the NOC was never neutral in all these wars. Its planes were used to transport military equipment and elements. It was used to pressure the areas not supportive of the Government of National Accord (GNA) by cutting off gasoline and gas supplies. The southern parts of Libya are an example. The Libyan south is now deprived of gas and gasoline only because it supports the Parliament and its government and army instead of the GNA.

Interviewer: There was a previous proposal for the NOC to be an independent institution or to have a neutral administration. Does the Parliament reject that?

We want a real neutral administration. Sanallah is not neutral. We demanded a joint signature between Sanallah and a person the Parliament chooses from the eastern region to manage the institution. Even in commercial transactions, when you do not trust your partner, you ask for a joint signature on the bank transactions. This is the least we can demand. Unfortunately, they call for a reopening of the oil and at the same time give a complete monopoly to Sanallah and Kabir over the resources of the Libyan people. This has unfortunately led to the collapse of the recent arrangements. There should have been a separate account for oil imports, but they insisted that the account be under the control of Sanallah.

Interviewer: You are talking about a collapse and before there was progress?

Yes, there was negotiation and an agreement to hold the returns of all oil until a government approved by all parties in Libya is formed. Unfortunately, after a great progress in these negotiations, everyone was surprised that they insisted on depositing these amounts in the NOC’s accounts controlled by Sanallah in the Central Bank controlled by Siddiq al-Kabir. This caused the last problem.

Interviewer: Our sources indicated a Russian-Turkish meeting at the highest levels of the defense ministers and deputy foreign ministers to coordinate the formation of a joint committee to start in Moscow soon. What is the agenda of this committee? To what extent you are partners or in this process and the resulting negotiations, if any?

We know that there were early Russian-Turkish consultations even on the issue of the ceasefire and other things. We welcome any international consultation, such as that between President Macron and President Trump or President Trump and President El-Sisi. What we do not welcome are deals at the expense of the Libyan people, the Parliament, the Government of Parliament, and the army of Parliament. We are monitoring these developments and we have confidence that the Russian side will not make a deal at the expense of Libya and shall not include deals regarding Syria in the Libyan file.

Russia and Turkey are not alone. The whole world sat with us in Berlin at the highest level and we are with the Berlin track and with the parliamentary initiative proposed by President Aguila Saleh, approved by the Parliament and the Libyan army in the Cairo initiative, which is really the initiative of Parliament and it is a Libyan initiative. This is our path. We welcome all consultations that would reduce tension, but at the same time, we warn against any bilateral deals at the expense of Libya.

Interviewer: Bilateral deals! Turks put a condition for negotiation, which was the withdrawal of the army entirely from Sirte and Jufra. Do you think that the Turks has withdrawn this condition? Did the Russians guarantee to you at least that thus would not take place as the Parliament and the army reject this matter? Or is not there any negotiations at this level between you and the Russians?

Before Ramadan, it was said to the army that the ceasefire should be declared to start negotiations. The army declared the ceasefire and an attack occurred instead of negotiating. Then the army was told to withdraw a little from Tripoli to start negotiations. The army withdrew a little and yet no negotiations started. Then it was said to the army to withdraw completely from Tripoli and it did. Then it was told to withdraw from Tarhouna, and it did. Then it was told to withdraw from Bani Walid, and it did. Now, they say you should withdraw from Sirte and Jufra. This will not happen, and the red line drawn by President El-Sisi in Cairo is a true Libyan red line. There will be no retreat from Sirte and Jufra. Rather, there will be advance if Turkey keeps its arrogance. We listen to Khaled al-Mishri saying that he wants to extend the GNA’s authority over the entire Libyan soil. Far from that! The Parliament should extend its authority over the entire Libyan soil because it is the Parliament elected by the Libyan people and has full legislative legitimacy.

Interviewer: You mentioned Egypt, but in previous interviews, you expressed fears about an Egyptian-Turkish conflict inside Libya, but said that there was no other option and that Turkey did not leave another option. To what extent do you think things might slide into confrontation rather than pacification as promoted by some?

The facts on the ground speak loud and clear. The US Ambassador says that he is not with the military interventions, but we see mercenaries flocking to Misrata and Tripoli until yesterday. Today, there are shipments. We see the military materiel on daily flights that land at al-Watiya and Misrata and ships that no one stops.

Unfortunately, there is a strange insistence and arrogance by the Turks and their agents, such as al-Mishri, the Head of the State Council, and the GNA. The whole government is there in Turkey. Now, this government is nothing more than a council of West Tripoli under the control of the Ottoman sultan to whom it pays royalties and al-Miri and from whom it receives its orders. We saw the Turkish Minister of Defense and the Turkish Chief of Staff deliver speeches to Turks inside the Libyan territories under the Turkish flag without any official—even from the GNA. All these things are unacceptable. The Libyan tribes that refused to pay al-Miri in the past will support the Libyan army and the brothers from Egypt and any other Arab brothers who implement mutual defense agreements against this Turkish invasion.

Interviewer: Does this mean that the confrontation is inevitable?

We do not say it is inevitable. We wish peace. When the tribal sheikhs and the President of the Parliament asked for Egyptian intervention, they did that for peace, not for war. We had to do that because we are facing an invasion of 16,000 mercenaries mostly from al-Qaeda and ISIS exported to Libya. How will we face them? Advanced NATO military systems, anti-aircraft missiles, drones, radars, jamming devices, advanced sea artillery. How will we face this without the Egyptian army? A request for help from the Egyptian army is a natural and necessary under the joint Arab defense system. There are joint defense agreements signed by the previous regime with Egypt. Add to this the clear request from the Libyan Parliament, its Speaker, and from the Libyan tribes.

Interviewer: On the other hand, today, sources referred to the deployment of the S-300 missile system by the Libyan army around Sirte. First, I would like you to confirm this information. Secondly, if it is true, what is the source of this system as it was always said that the Libyan army does not have it?

I will not go into the military affairs nor will I disclose any military information because we are now in a very dangerous situation and there are daily military field developments. I will not address the type of defenses etc. I would like to say is that the Libyan army and all countries that support it will not hesitate to provide everything they can to defend not only Sirte and Jufra but also the entire Libyan soil, up to the Tunisian, Algerian, and southern Libyan borders.

The Libyan Parliament has real legitimacy and is recognized internationally as the last elected legislative body in Libya. This Parliament has a legitimate army. This Parliament has a legitimate government headed by Mr. Abdullah al-Thini. That is the reality. In the western region, there is a group truckling to the Turks, unfortunately, which even lost the authority to speak on behalf of the Libyans because they became dependent on the authority of the sultan of Topkapı Palace, Recep Erdogan, who deals with us as his predecessors actually did. He aspires to revive the illusions of the Ottoman Empire, but he will fail. We trust in God, and we trust the Arab defense system. There are agreements for joint Arab defense that must be activated. We trust Egypt. We trust Algeria. We trust the heroic Tunisian Parliament that is trying to exclude the Muslim Brotherhood now. We trust our neighbors Chad, Niger, and Sudan. We trust all these countries and we request help from all Arab countries against the Turkish invasion.

Interviewer: Ok, Mr. Ambassador, we talked about the positions of all countries surrounding and not surrounding Libya, but the United Nations should be the main party. You criticized the delay in appointing an international envoy. Are the reasons for this delay clear?

The envoy is the envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. We ask Mr. Guterres to take his decision technocratically, professionally, transparently, and all objectively and not to be affected by political conflicts between countries. Unfortunately, there is a struggle for this position and this is the fact behind the scenes. Officially, the appointment must be from Guterres. We thank Mrs. Stephanie Williams for what she is doing after the resignation of Mr. Ghassan Salamé, but the fact remains that we need an envoy with full confidence and the full support of the Secretary-General.

Interviewer: You want an African figure as a UN envoy, right?

My personal belief is that Africa was excluded too much from the Libyan file. The African Union could have helped a lot in the Libyan national reconciliation and in resolving the conflicts in Libya, but it was excluded most of the time in favor of the United Nations. We believe that at least out of respect of Africa of which we are a part, to have the envoy from Africa. I personally support this, but in the end, we will accept any UN envoy.

Interviewer: The name of Mr. Ramtane Lamamra, an Algerian figure, was proposed but the Parliament refused him as reported.

According to my knowledge, the Parliament did not reject anyone. The Parliament accepts any objective professional figure who does not take orders or bribes from any country, even if it is his/her mother country. The envoy must belong to the United Nations, not to his/her country. We want a professional figure. The name is not the issue here but their expeditious appointment is.

© Al Marsad English (2020)