(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Clashes in Benghazi have not stopped since the launch of General Khalifa Haftar’s Operation Dignity two years ago which allegedly claimed to fight terrorists. Local brigades continue to fight Haftar who is on a mission to control Libya’s eastern region.
Haftar’s forces are being accused of carrying out kidnappings and assassinations in addition to destroying and burning the homes of civilians. In addition, Haftar and his militia, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA), are also being accused of not only creating and spreading terrorism across eastern Libya, but also of torture and mass killings.
These claims have been made by many parties in Libya’s eastern region, including revolutionaries from Benghazi, residents in the eastern region and most recently Al- Mahdi Al-Barghathi, the Minister of Defense of the UN-backed unity Government. Al-Barghati, who was at one point loyal to Haftar, has now become Haftar’s enemy because of his accusations.
The GNA said these recent accusations indicate that Haftar does not have a united military force. The GNA believes that 90 percent of Haftar’s militia consists of civilians and that the fighters that forcefully took over control of oil facilities in Libya’s oil crescent region in September were actually foreign mercenaries. These allegations dispel Haftar’s promises of being able to form a unified Libyan army.
According to Al-Jazeera, Haftar’s forces recently murdered 10 individuals who opposed his military leadership in Libya’s eastern region. Ten individuals were tortured and killed with bullets at the end of last month.
Moreover, the LNA’s ruthless blockade of Ganfouda, a neighbourhood in Benghazi, since July 2014 has put the safety of many families at risk.
The fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 created a power vacuum in the country, allowing various militia groups to take advantage of the situation by attempting to gain power and control.
Currently there are two main political powers in Libya, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, which is backed by Haftar. The HoR has previously refused to give the GNA its support and without it the fledgling government will continue to face challenges in governing Libya.
The HoR will soon be voting on whether or not they support the new cabinet assembled by the GNA.