GNA’s Defense Ministry: We Are Not Aware of Any Military Operation by the Interior Ministry – Al Marsad

The statement by the Ministry of Defense of the Government of National Accord (GNA) indicated that it had no knowledge of Fathi Bashagha’s plans to launch a security operation named “Sayd Al-Afaei” (Snake Hunting) to fight organized crime and drug traffickers which he said was being done in cooperation with the Chief of Staff of the GNA forces and the Western Military Region. Are these signs of a continuing power struggle behind the scenes in the GNA camp between Bashagha and Namroush and their respective ministries?  

(Libya, 11 January 2021) – The GNA’s Defense Minister, Salah al-Din al-Namroush’s confirmation came in a statement issued on Sunday that it was making ongoing efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and fight human trafficking and organized crime. He said their work was subject to a specific and precise system based on prior planning for any operation it carries out.


This statement seems to have been made in response to statements made by GNA’s Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha to the press that claimed he was launching a security operation named “Sayd Al-Afaei” (Snake hunting), to fight organized crime and drug traffickers and that it was an operation drawn up by the Chief of Staff of the GNA forces and the Western Military Region.

Namroush with Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in Ankara.

But Namroush denied any prior coordination by Bashagha and his “snake operation” with the Ministry of Defense and the commanders of the western military regions and Tripoli. He urged security authorities to coordinate in advance with the Defence Ministry and their institutions to achieve security for citizens and safeguarding the sovereignty of the nation.

The statements by Bashagha and Namroush point to a hidden power struggle and conflict Bashagha’s Ministry of Interior and the Namroush’s Ministry of Defence, which is closely aligned to the head of the Presidential Council, Fayez al-Sarraj. It’s possible that what triggered the comments by Namroush was Bashagha’s announcement of international support from some countries for his operation.

Bashagha with Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in Ankara.

The operation would mean, according to observers in Tripoli,  that the capital would be transformed into a theatre of military operations to settle scores between the armed militias controlling the city. This is key to Bashagha’s desire to gain power and position as the new Prime Minister in a new interim government and Presidency. Bashagha made his ambitions clear in the recent interview he issued to Associated Press.


According to political expert Dr Al-Arabi Abu Bakr al-Wirfalli, in a statement made to Al-Ain News, Bashagha seems to be attempting to convince the international commend that he is the “strongman” Libya needs to bring order to chaos and that his efforts are needed to topple to the current head of the GNA, Fayez al-Sarraj.

Dr  Wirfalli argues that Bashagha wants to replace Sarraj with a more loyal pro-Turkey ally, particularly as Turkey is looking for a prime minister to ensure a smooth transition of power that preserves their interests in Libya. He said the return new internal conflict within Tripoli indicates that some of the militias are supported by Turkey while others are looking for a supporter.


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