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Will the PC crisis topple Al-Sarraj government?

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LIBYAPROSPECT – London

“Everyone is ruling, and no one is controlling,” that’s how the Presidential Council (PC) resigned member, Moussa Al-Koni, shorten the Libyan crisis. The crisis that the PC members reached after nine months of performing their actual duties based in the Libyan capital Tripoli.

A report on the Anadolu News Agency said that the PC managed to put “massive” budget to the country worth $26 billion in 2017 but failed to control the ground, ruled by rival militias, despite owing the validity of appointing state officials.

Al-Koni resignation, on Monday, surprised many observers, especially that it followed some long discussions about the fate of the PC and the Government of National Accord (GNA), one year after the signing the Political Agreement of Dec.17th 2015. Al-Koni’s decision deepened the PC wounds, as nearly one-third of its nine members are either resigned or boycotting.

The Anadolu News Agency said that before tackling the consequences of his resignation, we should first go back to backgrounds, which date back to one day after the PC member Fathy El-Majbary (from Barqa in the east of Libya) made appointments in critical posts like the head of the Intelligence Services, the head of anti-terrorism force, and the minister of justice, which dragged opposition from the PC member, Abdel-Salam Kajman. El-Majbary’s decisions were from Dec.28th 2016 until January 2017, which Kajman regarded “void and illegal.”

An informed source said that El-Majbary only took such decisions after being mandated from the head of the PC, Fayez Al-Sarraj while traveling abroad. The source added that “El-Majbary, from Jalo Oasis, south the oil Crescent area, met with three other PC members, Ahmed Mitig (Misrata), Mohamed Amari (Islamist) and Moussa Al-Koni (Tuareg in the south), with the absence of Kajman (for unknown reasons), Al-Sarraj, Ali Gatrany (the boycotting member representing General Khalifa Haftar), and Omar Al-Aswad (the boycotting PC member representing Zintan).

The same source pointed that Fatah-Allah Hussain Mohamed was appointed as the head of the Intelligence Services, is affiliated with Haftar, the commander of forces of the House of Representatives (HoR) in the east. He has no experience in the military or intelligence field, and that’s why some parties in the east had some reservations concerning his appointment. The source was amazed by “the silence” of Ahmed Mitig (representing Misrata), clarifying “his silence only indicates approval on the newly appointments, especially that he was there at the time.”

The source outweighed a deal between Misrata – the biggest military force in the west, and Haftar, the greatest force in the east, that Salem Joha (one of Misrata brigade military commanders) shall be appointed the military chief of staff, especially that Cairo and UEA consider him as more moderate comparing to other Misrata leaders. And Haftar is appointed the supreme commander of the Libyan army. And distribute other posts based on the three regions (Tripoli in the west, Barqa in the east, and Fezzan in the south).

Kajman’s opposition to the latest appointments, Al-Koni’s resignation, the boycotting by Gatrany and Al-Aswad, threatens to undermine the PC, despite that some sources said that Al-Koni might face pressures to retreat on his resignation, it is likely that the new appointments would be reconsidered or at least modified.

The same source said that “the PC is not the problem, as it is one outcome of the Political Agreement, but the question should be: “will the accord withstand in front of such development?” The source pointed to three goals the PC had in mind when arrived at Tripoli; eliminating Daesh group in Sirte, end oil exports crisis, and unite the country.

He added that “the PC succeeded in eradicating Daesh, thanks to Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous forces, mostly from Misrata, ended oil crisis, oil exports from 300 thousand bpd to 685 bpd, but hadn’t yet achieved the third goal.”

Despite that most parties, especially from the east, accuse the PC of failing, the same source said that “the International Community won’t raise legitimacy off the PC or the GNA, won’t grant legitimacy to the Interim Government in the East, nor the Salvation Government in the west, it will remain supportive to the GNA, even if only one member remains inside the PC.”

The source also referred to pressures to modify the Political Agreement, given significant changes occurred since the singing, including Haftar’s control over the oil ports, Misrata brigades victory over Daesh in Sirte, with Haftar and Misrata on direct demarcation for the first time.

The confrontations between both parties occurred in the south, forces led by Mohamed Bin Nayel, who affiliated with Haftar, controlled Brak air base south Libya nearby Sabha city, then attempted to control Tamanhant air base in Sabha, but failed as Misrata third forces moved military reinforcements to the south.

In the light of above facts, the source predicted that the PC would stay in the next phase even if names changed.” hinted at the possibility of decreasing the number of members from nine to three representing the three regions (Tripoli, Barqa, and Fezzan). And to modify the article 8 of the deal, in a way that would allow Haftar’s appointment as the supreme commander of the armed forces, even though the coming scenario is likely a coup by Haftar against the government announcing martial law, that’s why discussions are carried out with Misrata brigades about Salem Juha for the chief of staff position to prevent such scenario and balance the future army between Haftar and Misrata.

Algeria, according to the source, informed Haftar, during his visit, last December, its rejection to any military procedure across its borders without its approval, about announcement by Haftar commanders’ readiness to control the capital, Tripoli. The source clarified that “Algeria doesn’t want Egypt on its borders in case Haftar controlled the west, that’s why Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia are coordinating efforts.”

However, any agreement between Haftar and Misrata brigades might sideline any role for Fezzan in the south, which has no significant military and political weight in the country, given smaller number of population comparing to Tripolitania or Barqa, besides the ongoing struggle between its principal components (Tabu, Arab, and Touareg).    Al-Koni’s resignation, even if tightened the noose on Al-Sarraj government, but the next phase is likely to see international and regional diplomatic movements to modify the political accord. But the bigger challenge for the PC will be to reunite Libya’s three main regions under one authority, allow a transitional period that ends with newly elected government, control the military institutions after demilitarization of all armed militias.

Al-Koni’s resignation, even if tightened the noose on Al-Sarraj government, but the next phase is likely to see international and regional diplomatic movements to modify the political accord. But the bigger challenge for the PC will be to reunite Libya’s three main regions under one authority, allow a transitional period that ends with newly elected government, control the military institutions after demilitarization of all armed militias.