LIBYAPROSPECT – London
Libya has been protesting against the recent French intervention, upon the French government announcement of the death of its three soldiers in Benghazi.
According to a report published by France24 website, in French language and translated here by LIBYAPROSPECT, the events of 2011 were revisited, where the former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, alongside with the previous British Prime Minister, David Cameron, were surrounded by a mass of people cheering for them in the light of the fall of Gaddafi’s regime.
The report discusses the current events in Libya. It’s been five years since the revolution and people are demonstrating against the French government, with the French flag being trampled as a sign of protest in Tripoli and Misrata.
The public’s violent and disrespectful protest is a reaction to the French authorities admitting the existence of French forces on the Libyan soil upon the helicopter incident, at a time where their only contribution was thought to be gathering information on terrorist groups through their air force.
The report also affirmed that the Libyan government’s reaction, which headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj, is as important as the public’s reaction, where Al-Sarraj stated that France violated Libyan lands.
Since the admittance of French authorities of their military intervention, Libyans have been campaigning against the French, backed by the Government of National Accord (GNA). The protesters in Tripoli demanded that the French companies should be boycotted. Benghazi’s Revolutionaries Council urged the public to remove all foreign troops from Libya.
According to the report, Al-Sarraj’s reaction is somewhat strange, especially after announcing to the French media that his government is backed by western powers, meaning that these nations have scoped Libya through intelligence operations, so why is Al-Sarraj agitated by the French intervention now?
The report also referred to the specialist in Libyan affairs, Hélène Bravin, the author of the book “Kadhafi: Vie et mort d’un dictateur”, (Gaddafi…The Life and Death of a Dictator), who stated that “we had to expect this kind of legitimate reaction, especially since Libya’s sovereignty was contested. However, Al-Sarraj should not play the original role; he’s been aware of western intelligence operations”.
Bravin added in a statement to France24 that Al-Sarraj is using the Libyan’s anger for his political gains. The Libyan public does not fully support Al-Sarraj despite the GNA being backed by the West.
Tripoli believes that the French are supporting general Khalifa Haftar through their special forces. Haftar’s forces control the eastern region and is currently fighting Islamists including the Islamic State (IS), according to France24. Haftar does not support the GNA as a result of his loyalty to Tobruk’s government.
On the other hand, Libyan sources working with Reuters stated that the French forces are not just gathering information, but also assist Haftar.
AFP news agency reported that “it is necessary to do everything possible to fight the IS, the reality is Haftar was the first to declare war against the IS,” denying that France’s purpose is that of an intelligence nature according to France24.
The political analyst residing in Tunisia, Ezzuldeen Ageel, claimed in a report published by the Arabic version of France24 that “France’s statement regarding Libya is not clear. It supports a political solution, yet it secretly backs Haftar who is against the GNA and believes that the crisis can only be resolved through military action”.
The report mentioned that Ageel’s opinion is not different to that one of the Libyan journalist, Abdul-Salam Al-Rajhi, who said that “the anger towards France is understandable and acceptable. The contradiction is evident between what the French authorities claim in their statements and their support to the GNA, and how they support Haftar, who is in opposition of the GNA.”
According to the report, France invited all factions to support the GNA to rise with Libya and eliminate any terrorist threat. And this proves that France played Double-Game and involved on both sides of the Libyan crisis.
France24 published the former Defense Minister’s statements, Alain Richard, who said that “it is wrong to say that France is playing a double-Game in Libya.” Richard added that “the French government will not be a part of the Libyan conflict, and that their existence in Libya is merely to gather information and not to assist Haftar.”
Hélène Bravin pointed out that it is a matter of logic, the enemy is one, referring to the IS, which is the great danger to the whole region including the European coastline. Also, the French’s intervention is of information-related only and not militarily, according to Bravin.