Hostilities Between Misrata & LNA in Southern Libya, Koni Resigns

Jan 3, 2017 | Libyan actors

On 27 December, the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) 12th Force in southern Libya, commanded by Mohamed Bin Nayel, mobilized eastwards from Brak al-Shati airbase towards Temenhint airbase. This followed an earlier visit by senior Misratan military commanders to the Benghazi Defence Brigade (BDB) base in Jufra. The LNA clashed with units from Misrata’s Third Force at Temenhint before taking the strategic checkpoint of Gweerat al-Mal. On 1 January, more brief clashes were reported between the LNA and the Third Force at Teminhint airbase. A senior commander in the Misratan al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) coalition threatened forceful retaliation against the LNA’s forces if they attempted to attack the airbase.

On 30 December, demonstrations were held in Buwanis municipality near Sebha. Protestors called for the demilitarization of the area and for Misrata’s Third Force pull out from the airbase. Similar demonstrations were held in Jufra, Waddan, Sebha and Brak, all demanding the Misratans withdraw from southern Libya. However, the numbers remain small meaning the LNA forces are unlikely to defeat the Misratan forces if conflict does break out, particularly if Misrata mobilizes in force to consolidate its presence in the south. A number of tribes and local militias in southern Libya are still aligned with the Misratans, such as the Hasawna, Awlad Suliman and the Tuareg.

On 2 January, Musa al-Koni announced his resignation as deputy PM of the Presidential Council (PC). He said that he was resigning because he felt the GNA had failed in its responsibility to the Libyan people and had not solved the country’s crises. It will be difficult to find a replacement for al-Koni, and it is possible that PC members Ali Gatrani and Omar Aswad, who have long boycotted the PC, may also resign.

On 29 December, the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) announced it had agreed a temporary budget with the GNA for the fiscal year 2017. The budget totals 37 billion Libyan dinars (LYD). CBL and the GNA also agreed on a number of monetary measures aimed at easing the chronic liquidity crisis in Libya. On 31 January, the PC appointed a new Chief of Intelligence, a new Minister of Justice, and the Chief of a new Counter Terrorism Unit. The appointee for Chief of Intelligence, Fathallah Saiti, is head of the HoR’s National Security Committee and believed to be close to Field Marshall Haftar. Salem Juha, an influential commander from Misrata, was also reportedly appointed as Chief of Staff of the Libyan Armed Forces under the command of the PC. The appointments have sparked division within the PC and taken with other developments, could signal an unravelling of the PC in its current form.