By: Senussi Bsaikri*
The doubt and refuse remained as the primary attitude of the
commander of the Dignity Operation, General Khalifa Haftar, towards the Presidential Council (PC) and its head, Fayez al-Sarraj.
Moreover, when Haftar retreated, it was only a technical retreat because he announced in Paris and Abu-Dhabi that he didn’t trust the promises of Al-Sarraj.
Since the signature of the Political Agreement in Skhirat, Haftar considered the deal as weak because it represents foreign agendas that show Al-Sarraj as a pawn. That is why Haftar insisted on carrying out his military decisiveness even against the PC.
On the other hand, the attitude of Al-Sarraj was and still the reconciliation, which made his opponents in Tripoli accused him of giving up and surrendering to Haftar to enable him to control Tripoli.
However, Al-Sarraj seemed to leave his reconciliation with Haftar since Haftar’s forces moved to control the military bases in the middle and south of the country.
The change in the attitude appeared when Al-Sarraj released his statements against Haftar, especially when Al-Sarraj accused Haftar who is affiliated with House of Representatives (HoR) of undermining the stability.
It looks like that Al-Sarraj was betting on emerging Haftar in the accord to come close to approaching the stability and ending the division in the country. There is evidence that Al-Sarraj tries to impose his will to push Haftar to merge. Moreover, Al-Sarraj thinks to deprive Haftar of the ability to obstruct the accord.
From some decisions, we understand that there would be a turnover to attacks and blockade instead of courtliness. The decisions included dividing the country into military regions and appointing an army chief of staff.
The decisions are policies to undermine the ambitious of Haftar to advance militarily for the sake of imposing his military solution.
In fact, the latest decision of Al-Sarraj to appoint the field commander in the Dignity Operation, Faraj Gueam, as the deputy Minister of Interior comes as an escalation against Haftar.
It is worth mentioning that Gueam led a campaign against Haftar. Gueam was appeared in video clips talking about a conspiracy that involved his army in a series of hundreds of assassination operations.
Furthermore, Gueam is one of the supporters of the Minister of Interior of the Government of National Accord (GNA), El-Mahdi Ela-Barghathi, who is one of the most opponents against Haftar.
Appointing Gueam in a senior security position in the area that controlled by Haftar is a direct threat to Haftar. The appointment of Gueam made Haftar to announce his order to disallow, even by force, any security officials of the PC to work from Cyrenaica, the eastern province of Libya.
No doubt that Haftar’s concern comes from his opinion that the battle would be transformed onto his controlled lands after he planned to move towards the western side of Libya that controlled by the PC. Haftar also moved his forces towards the southern Libya and specifically south of Tripoli, which means that Haftar would become in the position of defense instead of advancing.
Therefore, appointing Gueam is not a challenge, even undeclared, in front of Haftar, it is a new and advanced step to change the balance of power between the two sides. Moreover, it would enable Al-Sarraj to move forward to the point of balance against Haftar.
The above updates would push forward to approach one of the two following directions:
The first possible direction is to let Haftar puts all his power to defend his gains by fighting the new decision, which would put him facing a social component that has its military power, where he might succeed to impose his full control to prevent any breakthrough.
The second direction for Haftar is to wait and make his efforts to dismantle the control of the PC through the soft power. In this case, this might appear as a perplexity and weakness on Haftar’s side because the PC would multiply the pressure on Haftar to weaken him and his authorities.
The two possibilities depend on some factors including the legitimacy of the PC because any aggression on Gueam means the aggression on the PC itself that backed internationally, which would embarrass Haftar.
On the other side, there is the attitude of the tribes of Cyrenaica that couldn’t be foreseen, but there are signs that the tribes are not more backing Haftar as much as before. It is essential mentioning that some eastern tribal delegations visited Tripoli stressing their support to the PC in Tripoli.
In the same context, the return of General Suliman Mahmud, who is against Haftar and loyal to the PC, to Tobruk would make the situation more difficult for Haftar. The situation might cause unlimited clashes.
*A Libyan Writer
Translated By LIBYAPROSPECT: Source