Italy largely responsible for escalating Libya conflict

Marshal Khalifa Haftar

Marshal Khalifa Haftar (centre) with high security personnel around him.  File photo

from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News)A NEW constitutional government in Libya will respect the interests of Italy if the European country stops supporting militia groups aligned to the unconstitutional Government of National Accord.

This is according to Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) which is opposed to the continued reign of the GNA despite the lapse of its mandate.

Haftar’s sentiments came as Italy emerges as among countries contributing to the instability in the North African country.

“If Italy ceases to support illegal groups, I guarantee that the interests of this country in Libya will be supported, when a new legitimate government will be elected in the country,” Haftar assured in an interview with an Arab media outlet that works in the conflict zone.

Haftar noted Italy had economic and political interests in the region.

Italy and Libya established diplomatic relations in 1947.

“The relations between our countries have a history that cannot be ignored. Given this, Italy should be more responsible for what is happening in Libya,” he said.

While much of the international community considered Libya as a pariah under the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, Italy maintained diplomatic relations with Libya and exported a significant quantity of its oil from the country.

Italy is hailed as the most important trade partner for Libya.

However, Italy’s support of groups controlled by the GNA is marring relations. Among armed groups aligned to the GNA include Al – Qaeda, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Muslim Brotherhood. Fayez Sarraj leads the militant groups.

Last November, the Haftar-led LNA shot down an Italian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) near the city of Tarhunah southeast of Tripoli, 65 kilometres south of the capital Tripoli.

This confirmed Italy’s participation in the civil war.

Also, it is believed the recent mosque airstrike in Bir Allah could have been carried out by an Italian UAV, and not a Turkish one as previously reported.

Italy’s support of the GNA comes despite the GNA losing legitimacy since the beginning of 2018.

“At the moment, power in Libya belongs to the illegitimate GNA, which is recognized by the United Nations,” Haftar said.

GNA’s continued reign is in contravention of the Skhirat Agreement signed by the main Libyan factions on December 17 in 2015.

The term of the GNA was to be valid for one year and could be extended for a maximum of another year if the constitution was not adopted in the first year.

The agreement paved way for the creation of the GNA and the formation of the Presidential Council for the transitional period.

This was supposed to end with elections and the adoption of a constitution but polls have not been held because of instability.

A key provision of the agreement for the transition period was that the entire legislative branch belonged to the House of Representatives, led by Aguila Saleh.

Without its approval, the GNA has no mandate to conclude any international treaty.

Contrary to the Skhirat agreements, the GNA did not agree on any candidacy for such key posts as the Chairmen of the Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Investment Fund and National Oil Corporation.

Meanwhile, Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of the National Oil Company, has come under under criticism for apparently representing only the interests of Turkey and not Libyans.

With the GNA term expiring constitutionally, Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj usurped power and revenues from Libyan oil.

According to critics, the GNA stands to gain if the current conflict escalates since it can only remain in power when the instability persists.

– CAJ News

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