14 – 20 Mar: 6th round of discussions aimed at unifying Libya’s military occur in Cairo

Mar 20, 2018 | Libyan actors

On 18 March, the sixth round of discussions, mediated by Egypt, aimed at unifying Libya’s military began in Cairo. Both opposing national coalitions’ Chiefs of Staff – the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) Brigadier General Abdul Fattah Nazhouri and the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Brigadier General Abdurahman al-Tawil – are said to have attended. Allegedly as many as forty GNA-aligned militias participated, including Tripoli-based Special Deterrent Forces (Rada) and the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade.

The negotiations to unify the Libyan military began in July 2017, with the first meeting serving as a way to establish a framework for the initiative.  The following meetings have built upon this and focused on ways to restructure the army, with the most recent discussions being held in mid-February of this year.

On 14 March, a High Council of State (HCS) convoy, that included its chairman Abdul-Rahman al-Swehli, was fired upon at the Najah checkpoint in the Nafousa Mountains near Gwalish. There are conflicting reports regarding the cause of the attack.

The HCS released a statement on its Facebook page alleging that the attack came from “an armed gang aligned with Operation Dignity” that left two injured and has seen four members of the Gharyan police directorate kidnapped. On 17 March, Hammadi al-Dabbashi, the commander of the Central Security Forces in the western region, stated that the HCS security detained in the incident, as well as the cars, were liberated in cooperation with the Security Directorate of Thaher al-Jabal within hours of the incident.

In contrast on 15 March, the Police Directorate of the Mountainside, a police department operating under the GNA’s Interior Ministry in the incident area, released a statement denying that there was an assassination attempt on al-Swehli but rather a miscommunication between the convoy guards and the police units. According to their statement, uniformed police stationed at the checkpoint asked the HCS convoy to stop and be searched but instead were fired upon by the convoy guards dressed in civilian clothes.