1 – 7 January 2020: Haftar declares full mobilisation to defend Libya from Turkey

Jan 9, 2020 | Libyan actors

On 3 January, in a brief live TV broadcast, the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar declared a state of full mobilisation to defend Libya “from the Turkish invader.” Haftar also described those in the Government of National Accord (GNA) who signed the MoU with Turkey as “traitors and criminals”. A group of tribal elders from Cyrenaica and Fezzan charged Haftar to command a holy war (“jihad”) against the perceived Ottoman invasion of Libya.

In contrast, the Tripoli-based national congregation of religious figures endorsed the Turkish parliament’s deployment of troops to Libya, saying that Haftar has sold Libya to “atheist Russians” and calling for the formation of an alliance among religious figures and sheikhs in the Maghreb states.

On 4 January, 50 members of the Tubruq-based House of Representatives (HoR) held an emergency meeting and 38 members voted to annul the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), cut relations with Turkey, and bring GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj to justice for high treason. The HoR asked the international community to withdraw its recognition of the GNA, and renamed itself the “Libyan Government.” The GNA rebuffed the HoR emergency meeting, claiming the session was illegal, and reaffirmed its MoU with Turkey.

On 4 January, the LNA launched a drone strike targeting a military academy camp in al-Hadba in Tripoli, killing at least 30 people and wounding 33 according to Libyan Ministry of Health spokesperson, Fawzi Onsi. The LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari denied their involvement in the attack. The incident received widespread condemnation both domestically and internationally, especially by Turkey and Qatar.

On 6 January, the LNA launched an assault on the city of Sirte, resulting in the withdrawal of local anti-LNA forces and GNA-aligned Misratan forces stationed there and the LNA gaining effective control of most of the city’s suburbs, airport, and seaport. Some LNA fighters have since moved westwards, with fighting occurring between LNA and Misratan forces west of Sirte, near Abu Grein.

Following their withdrawal, the anti-LNA forces are reported to be planning a counter-attack. On 7 January, the GNA-aligned Sirte Protection Force (SPF), which is a part of the BAM forces, said in a statement that they took a decision to withdraw outside Sirte to avoid bloodshed then await orders, reiterating that “our forces still retain their full capabilities and our withdrawal from Sirte is not the end.”