PC Condemns BDB Attack But Some Members Give Support

Mar 7, 2017 | Libyan actors

On 3 March, following the advance by the Benghazi Defence Forces (BDB) against the Libyan National Army (LNA) in the Oil Crescent, the UN-backed Presidential Council (PC) issued a statement condemning the escalation. It stated it “did not give any order to any forces to move towards that area” and that “we don’t have any kind of relationship with the armed escalation that happened today in the oil crescent area.” It suggested the attack could be an effort to undermine regionally-brokered political rapprochement efforts between Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar and the Government of National Accord (GNA). On 6 March, Abdurrahan al-Swehli, the head of the High Council of State (HCS) issued a statement calling for the Oil Crescent facilities to be returned to the GNA and for a ceasefire to be put in place.

On 3 March, Mahdi al-Barghati, the GNA’s Minister of Defence, issued a statement calling for a ceasefire and warning that the ministry would send an independent force to stop the fighting if needed. Barghati also called for the withdrawal of all forces, including mercenaries from Chad and Sudan. Barghati was implicated in the failed BDB attack against the Oil Crescent ports in December. Some sources claim that the 12th Infantry brigade, a militia aligned with Bargathi, has been fighting alongside the BDB.

PC member Mohamed al-Amari issued a statement saying he supported the BDB ‘revolutionaries’, but called for them to be integrated into the armed forces. PC member Abdulsalam Kajman criticised the PC’s statement on 3 March condemning the BDB attack, saying it had not been approved by all members and did not represent all the members’ views. Both Amari and Kajman are Islamist-aligned and anti-Haftar, however this is the first time they have taken a vocal stance in support of the Islamist – jihadist alliance.

On 5 March, the acting municipal authorities in Marj, where Haftar is based, called for the House of Representatives (HoR) to withdraw from the UN-brokered Libya Dialogue process. The HoR has so far failed to agree on the appointment of a 15-person delegation to attend talks with delegations from the GNA and the HSC to agree amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). In addition, since the BDB attack began, the number of HoR members who are publically against the LPA has doubled, with 73 out of the nominal 200 members opposed. Most are from eastern Libya, but a few are from the south and west.