LIBYAPROSPECT – Editorial
France admits the existence of French Special Forces on Libyan soil, after affirming the continuation of their air forces to oversee the region and gather information. Three French soldiers were killed during an “investigative mission” in a helicopter accident; Libyan sources reported that the soldiers were killed on Monday after being targeted by the Defense Brigade of Benghazi.
General Khalifa Haftar’s official spokesperson, Ahmad Al-Mesmari, stated, on Wednesday, that the bodies of an MI17 helicopter crew, known as “ra’ad,” were found last Sunday upon a scouting operation. Al-Mesmari stated in a press conference held in Benghazi that the team included of Colonel Abu Bakr Omar Saleh, Captain Omar Fathallah Al-Dresi, and the Prime Sargent Fathi Omar Al-Werfalli, in addition to three French intelligence agents who were also on board the helicopter “Ra’ad.”
The French forces are cooperating with Haftar-supporting troops. Haftar is leading the troops in East Libya Against Extremist Islamists and other opposing groups in Benghazi and other Eastern regions. Haftar has made his opposition to the Government of National Accord (GNA) very clear, which is backed by the UN and currently operating from Tripoli. The GNA also enjoys the backing of several Western nations including France.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Presidential Council (PC) demanded an explanation from the French government after its President, Francois Hollande, announced the death of the soldiers during a “dangerous intelligence operation.”
The GNA added, “The PC is dissatisfied with the French statements regarding the existence of French troops in the East of Libya without Knowledge nor coordination with the PC.” Tripoli and Misrata both demonstrated and protested against French involvement. Some of the protesters were displaced after Haftar’s attacks in Benghazi.
The General Staff considered the French’s actions as an assault on Libyan sovereignty, contributing to air strikes on civilians in the cities of Derna and Benghazi. Western nations declared their willingness to face the Islamic State (IS). However, the GNA said that aid must be provided upon request.
From its side, the Stat Council (SC), in Tripoli, condemned the illegal French military intervention and added in a statement that there are substantial facts regarding this incident involving the existence of French troops working with armed militias against the Political Agreement (PA) and the GNA.
Not only did the GNA and the SC condemn the intervention, but multiple parties also weighed in on the issue, on Thursday, Al-Taghyeer Party demanded the PC to make a formal complaint to the UN regarding the French intrusion, hoping that other parties will not fuel the Libyan conflict.
Also, the Justice and Building Party stated that the intervention would obstruct efforts of the United Nations, and demanded the GNA to take some steps to “stop this enemy” and prevent any future recurrences.
Benghazi’s Local Council dismissed the allegations regarding the rebels being radical, pointing out that they were the ones who overthrew Gaddafi back in 2011.
And Misrata Local Council described the incident as a breach to the UN Security Council’s decisions and a clear attack on Libyan sovereignty.
Even Misrata Military Council considered this to be a dangerous precedent in which the situation will be even more complicated, pointing out that the French hope to dismantle the war on terrorism in Sirte, which can only prove Haftar’s cooperation with the IS.
Earlier than that, the Libya’s Grand Mufti, Sadeq Al-Gheriani, expressed his support to Benghazi’s Defense Brigades, described the incident as an “invasion” and called upon all Libyans to stand up to it.
The member of the House of Representatives (HoR), Fathi Bashaga, expressed the need to address the involved nations against any intervention, as it is considered a violation of the Libyan sovereignty and will only result in complicating the Libyan crisis. Also, the member of the HoR, Salim Qneidy, stated that the HoR is unaware of any foreign forces fighting alongside the army on the Libyan soil and that the existence of such troops in Libya is rejected with no room for discussions.
ALNASIER for human rights also denounced the French Government’s support to Haftar’s Operation “Dignity”.
Various criticisms and condemnations poured in after the French deaths, unveiling Haftar’s military procedures, convictions stemming from numerous bodies such as the GNA, the PC, and the HoR, in addition to numerous parties and human rights organizations.
The question is: What comes next after this violation of national sovereignty caused by the Operation “Dignity”?