Tag Archives: Haftar

Libya GNA accuses Haftar forces of disrupting eastern elections


City elections in Misrata and those planned across western and southern Libya could help pave the way for nationwide elections.

Voters in the western Libyan city of Misrata are heading to the polls to elect municipal leaders.

Thursday’s vote in the war-torn country’s third-largest city and those planned across western and southern Libya could help pave the way for nationwide elections, but the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) has accused renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces of disrupting planned polls elsewhere.

“Unfortunately in eastern Libya they are going back to individual rule and they don’t have the freedom to vote,” Mohamed Shaafe, an election trainer, said.

“Elected officials were removed from office.”


‘Voting only solution’
A major oil producer, Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. The country has since been divided into two rival camps that are based in the country’s east and west – and that in recent years have been vying for power.

The conflict escalated in April last year when Haftar, who is supported by Russian mercenaries, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, announced an offensive to wrest control of the capital from the United Nations-recognised GNA.

Backed by Turkey, the GNA in early June succeeded in repelling Haftar, driving his self-styled Libyan National Army to the coastal Mediterranean city of Sirte.

Last month, GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj offered a ceasefire and called for the demilitarisation of Sirte, a city located roughly halfway between Tripoli and Haftar’s bastion city of Benghazi.


Aguila Saleh, the speaker of the Haftar-allied House of Representatives in Tobruk, has expressed support for the ceasefire initiative but Haftar rejected it, calling it a stunt aimed at catching the LNA off-guard.

Misrata, home to some 500,000 people, is a main source of military power for the GNA. Troops from the city played a major role in the GNA’s series of military victories that forced Haftar’s forces out of western Libya and towards the east.

“Some Libyans here say voting is the only solution to the conflict which has lasted years, but Haftar is removing elected city officials and issuing military orders to appoint their replacements,” Reporting from Misrata, Noble Reporters Media said.

“And with elections unlikely to be held in areas he controls, how and when the Libyan conflict will end remains unclear.”


Just in: Fighters fly out of Libya amid Haftar retreat

‘A very meaningful event’ because LNA deprived of its most effective foreign fighting force near Tripoli, analyst says.

Russian fighters in Libya were flown out a town south of Tripoli by their Libyan allies after retreating from front lines at the capital, the town’s mayor said.

The reported departure of the Russians on Sunday was another blow to the Libya National Army (LNA) of eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar and his foreign allies.

The Russian fighters allied to the LNA retreated with their heavy equipment from the capital to the airport of Bani Walid, a town some 150km (93 miles) southeast of Tripoli, said Salem Alaywan, Bani Walid’s mayor.


He said the Russians were flown out of western Libya to Jufra, a remote central district and LNA stronghold.

“They [the Russians] were flown in three military planes to Jufra and their military vehicles were driven there,” he said.

LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari denied any foreigners were fighting with his force.


1,200 mercenaries
But the Russians’ presence has been widely documented by diplomats and journalists. Pictures purportedly showing Russians, some sitting on trucks, in Bani Walid were posted on social media.

According to a leaked United Nations report, Russian private military contractor Wagner Group deployed about 1,200 mercenaries to Libya to strengthen Haftar’s forces. They have been identified using equipment typically reserved for Russia’s armed forces.

UN monitors identified more than two dozen flights between Russia and eastern Libya from August 2018 to August 2019 by civilian aircraft “strongly linked to or owned by” Wagner Group or related companies.


NobleReporters, gathered from Tripoli, said Haftar’s immediate gains in the assault on the capital a year ago have been attributed to the fighting prowess of the military contractors from the Wagner Group.

“We don’t know why they’re leaving at this crucial time because Haftar is losing on the ground. The withdrawal of the Russian [fighters] could have major consequences for Haftar’s forces,” he said.

‘Meaningful event’
The Tripoli government, known as the GNA, has with Turkish help made sudden strides, seizing a string of towns from the LNA, capturing the strategically important al-Watiya airbase, and destroying several Russian-made air defence systems.


“The withdrawal [of the Russians] from the greater Tripoli area is a very meaningful event because it deprives the LNA of its most effective, best-equipped foreign fighting forces on that key front,” said Jalel Harchaoui, research fellow at the Clingendael Institute.

The GNA has deployed Syrian fighters allied to Turkey, while Haftar is also using Sudanese. The LNA still holds the town of Tarhouna south of Tripoli with the help of a local armed group.

Haftar’s forces, backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, have been trying to capture the capital for 13 months, but suffered a string of defeats in recent weeks in fighting against Turkey-backed forces of the Tripoli government.


In the past two days, LNA forces have withdrawn from some positions in southern Tripoli in what they described as a humanitarian gesture. Forces allied to the internationally recognised government re-entered some of those areas.

Libya has been without central government control for nine years, and since 2014 it has been divided between two main rival governments in the east and the west. The conflict has turned into a proxy war between the foreign allies of the two sides.