Libya: tension in Tripoli against Sarraj-Haftar agreement

Premier fears new spiral of violence of rebel militias

12 May, 19:49

    (by Rodolfo Calò) (ANSAmed) - CAIRO, MAY 12 - Tension is high in Tripoli with the Libyan presidential council of Premier Fayez Al Sarraj warning against a ''new spiral of violence'' and a militia boasting that it has closed the foreign ministry. The fresh tension was sparked by the 'summit' earlier this month in Abu Dhabi between Sarraj and the strongman of Cyrenaica, general Khalifa Haftar, as shown by statements and comments.

    ''Press reports on the summit of Abu Dhabi between Haftar and Serraj have shaken the equilibrium both in Tripoli and Misrata'', warned Mattia Toaldo, senior analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in London in statements to ANSA.

    What has emerged, after seeing the statements and official remarks after the meeting on May 2, is that Arab media presented as an agreement what were apparently Haftar's negotiating positions: the creation of a three-member presidential council with Haftar, Sarraj and the president of Parliament, Aghila Saleh; the unification of the army under the general's command; a ban on some Islamist militias; presidential elections to be held in a few months during which Haftar himself could present his candidature.

    ''Together with news of an imminent second summit in Cairo'' in which Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi ''blessed the accord, all this gave the impression to many actors in western Libya that Sarraj was on the verge of making extreme concessions to Haftar'', noted Toaldo, signaling that ''over the last week the 'hardliners' became stronger in Misrata'', the key city for the survival of the Libyan Political Agreement mediated by the UN in December 2015 in Morocco.

    ''But most of all in Tripoli balances broke after they led to the almost entirely pacific establishment of the Sarraj government in the capital'', said the ECFR analyst. It is well known that the premier's position is based on a coalition between the militias of the capital and of Misrata.

    Toaldo noted that ''part of the latter, after the meeting in Abu Dhabi, started to detach themselves from the coalition and get closer to the more radical front that supports the national salvation government of Khalifa Ghweil, Sarraj's rival. It is unclear whether this will bring an armed conflict in the capital between the militias of Tripoli formally supporting Sarraj and those of Misrata''. There is a clear 'political' convergence between the two fronts because those from both Tripoli and Misrata are against attributing a political role or military leadership to Haftar.

    ''This also explains why militias of the capital stormed the foreign ministry after the statements of minister Mohammed Siyala in Algiers that legitimized Haftar's role'', explained Toaldo, stressing that, although there is a ''concrete danger of violence'', mediators like Paolo Serra, the UN military advisor in Libya, ''are already at work''. (ANSAmed).

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