1-7 Nov: GNA militias launch Warshefana campaign

Nov 7, 2017 | Libyan actors

On 1 November, a new large-scale military campaign was launched in Wershefana, south of Tripoli. The campaign has been dubbed ‘Tidings of Security.’ This implicitly Government of National Accord (GNA) sanctioned military campaign has begun to gain significant momentum. The campaign is being led by Usama al-Juwaili, the GNA appointed commander of the western region military zone. His forces have attacked the Libyan National Army (LNA)-affiliated ‘4th Division’ forces in Warshefana. The LNA has condemned the attack.

Juwaili’s campaign appears designed to reshape alliances and forces in the western region in order to counter the LNA’s growing influence. Juwaili’s forces include units from the Zintan Military Council, including Libyan National Army (LNA)-affiliated units, as well as the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade (TRB) led by Tripoli strong man Haithem Tajouri, and the Kani militias from Tarhouna. Militias from Janzour and Zawiyya are also expected to join the fray.

Heavy shelling has started on the main barracks of the LNA-aligned 4th Division and a number of people have already died as a result of the clashes from both sides. A number of Wershefana politicians and civilians are making urgent pleas to the UN and international community for help.

From 29 October to 2 November, the Egyptian Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hejazi hosted talks between senior military officers from the LNA and GNA. The talks included Salem Jouha, a highly respected senior military commander from Misrata who has been slated to become the new Libyan Chief of Staff in a unified Libyan army under Khalifa Haftar’s General Command.

On 2 November, Jouha made an impassioned interview on Libyan TV detailing the new military structures agreed in the meeting. This included a new unified army general command, a national security council, and measures for reintegrating army operational, financial, administrative and regulatory structures. The meeting was also attended by Idris Madi, the LNA’s western region commander.

On 1 November, Haftar made an urgent visit to Cairo to try to manage the fall-out from the ‘mystery’ airstrike that hit a Derna farm killing 16 civilians on 30 October. No one has taken responsibility for the widely condemned airstrikes. The strikes came just a few days after the discovery of 36 executed bodies, mainly civilians, near Benghazi. Again, the perpetrators are not known but hardliners affiliated with the LNA are the main suspects.

On 1 November, Col. Mohammed al-Gneidi, a senior commander of the GNA-affiliated al-Bunyan al-Marsus forces blasted both GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and the officers meeting in Egypt, threatening Egypt and the UAE with retaliatory airstrikes. This led Serraj to fire Gneidi and refer him to investigation.