Two armed groups formerly loyal to the commander in chief of the Libya National Army (LNA), General Khalifa Haftar, defected and pledged loyalty to the rival UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). The LNA are the armed forces of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR). Haftar rejects the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), as does the HoR.
The GNA has been trying to unify Libyan militia under one central command but Haftar has refused to join demanding GNA militias be disbanded. Many of the militia are regarded by Haftar as his enemies. Attempts by the GNA to unify the country have failed so far. The HoR is to be the legislature of the GNA according to the Libyan political agreement(LPA) but must first vote confidence in the GNA. This has not happened with all meetings so far either without a quorum or disrupted, with no vote.
The two groups who decided to support the GNA are the special anti-terrorist force and a military intelligence unit. On Saturday the commanders of the two units held a joint news conference together with GNA Defence Minister Al-Mahdi al-Bargathi. Al-Bargathi is an opponent of Haftar even though he is in the LNA and the Haftar-led Operation Dignity. Originally it was reported that Haftar had demanded that Al-Barghathi return to Benghazi to lead Brigade 204 tanks which was formerly under his command. This was later denied by an LNA spokesperson.
The head of the Petroleum Forces Guard (PFG) who guard several oil ports in the oil crescent, Ibrahim Jodhran, is also a foe of Haftar. The PFG have successfully launched an eastern front against the Islamic State. They have captured several towns and are advancing towards Sirte.
Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) has urged all the countries armed factions to unite. Haftar is adamantly opposed to uniting with militias he despises and losing his position as commander in chief.
In response to the defections and attempts to extend the rule of the GNA to the east, the command of the Dignity Operation said that it would not allow any ministries that are part of the GNA to work in Benghazi before being approved by the HoR.
The Minister of the Interior in the HoR government said that the "Special Tasks Force" had been cancelled and ordered that all its properties be transferred to the Ministry. Spokesperson of the General Command of the Armed Forces of the HoR, Ahmed Al-Mismari warned of people "who want to backstab the armed forces, security departments, and the volunteering fighters of Dignity Operation by extending their hands to “the fighters group and Muslims Brotherhood Group."
The reference is to Islamist opponents of Haftar who support the GNA. The Special Tasks Forces was one of the forces that provided security for Al-Barghathi when he visited Benghazi.
Al-Barghathi rejected the order of the HoR to dissolve the Special Missions Unit and the Security Backup Unit of military intelligence. He said the order was unjustified. He said he supports all the brigades and forces in Libya fighting IS in Sirte and elsewhere.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.