Egypt, the UN and Arab governments try to mediated between the two governments in Libya. A massacre at an air base interrupted the process and threatens to intensify the civil war.
(Cairo) Nobody has their eye on Libya with all "western" media preoccupied with DC machinations, Russiaphobia and the first overseas trip of President Trump.
What about the implosion we are on the brink of seeing in Libya following the murder of all LNA Air Force personnel at the Brak al-Shati AFB?
The death toll in the attack of a Libyan National Army airbase, in south Libya, rose to over 140, a spokesman for Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar said on Sunday.
Remarkably it was militia (called 'the third force') of the UN unelected Government of National Accord (GNA) under Faez Serraj that attacked and executed the unarmed men in the Brak al-Shati Air base. There were allegedly foreigners among the attackers possibly aligned with al-Qaeda.
LNA spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari said on Friday most of the fatalities were maintenance and support Air Force personnel including some pilots. He added the victims included many civilians such as cooks and cleaners who worked at the airbase or were in the nearby area, adding that barbaric summary executions were carried out one by one, all head shots. "Many of the young airmen were returning from a military parade. They weren't armed but still were executed," the spokesman said.
Aerial view and map of Brak al-Shati air base
The LNA Air Force has been in control of the airbase since last December.
The GNA's 'third force' militia spokesman, most of whom are from Misrata said they had "liberated the base and destroyed all the forces inside."
Prime Minister Faez Serraj the UN appointed prime minister has denied ordering the attack.
The attack broke an informal truce reached in Abu Dhabi brokered by one of the most powerful GCC personalities, HH the Crown Prince of the UAE, Sheikh Mohamad bin Zayed Al Nahayan earlier this month when the LNA's commander, Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, met the U.N.backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. Also in attendance was President Sisi of Egypt as well as a senior civil servant from the Russian Federation.
Last week Hafter and Serraj were due to meet again but in Cairo this time under the mediation of President Sisi. Both were supposed to be Cairo on May 11 but Serraj did not shown up. It was said that his own militia had threatened him and told him to stay away.
Serraj went on to Guinea to meet the head of the African Union and to Riyadh to take part in Trump's Arab Islamic American party on Sunday. He shortly met with President Trump who, it seems, had not been briefed on the atrocities committed by Serraj's militias at the time they briefly spoke with each other.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is particularly disturbed by the high number of fatalities in the Air Base attack as well as reports of their barbaric summary execution including civilians which, if confirmed, should constitute a war crime perpetrated by the UN recognised and chosen government itself. It was not elected by the Libyan people. An astonishing development.
Martin Kobler, the head of the U.N. Support Mission known as UNSMIL, strongly condemned the deadly incident as a "vicious attack undermines political efforts."
"I am outraged by reports of significant numbers of fatalities, including civilians and by reports that summary executions may have taken place. Summary executions and targeting civilians constitute a war crime, which may be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court," Kobler said.
To back track a little, the first meeting started in Rome. Italy is leading the 'fantasy' campaign to convince the outside world that somehow the two year civil war is about to end, trumpeting “breakthrough” when describing the April 21st meeting in Rome between Agelah Saleh, the president of the elected parliament in Tobruk, and Abdurrahman Swehli, head of Tripoli’s High Council of State (HCS).
The hard reality is that the Tobruk parliament, and Haftar, now command the strongest army, control two thirds of the country and hold the Oil Crescent, home to most of the oil. And their objective is to get control of the remaining third, crucially west and south of Tripoli.
Haftar needs also to stop the Italian-Libyan-EU criminal mafia network controlling human trafficking of migrants from Libya to Europe.
Trump’s declaration weeks ago that the US has “no role” in LIbya left the field clear for Russia in Libya. The Kremlin showed its hand in January, inviting Haftar aboard an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean.
Russia is to send more diplomats to Libya next week and near the end of May a large naval exercise is expected off the coast of Libya. One might question the reasoning behind the timing of this exercise.
Moscow is well aware that Haftar is now the key player. This is now clearly a Russian led game with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov playing an important role. He recently successfully negotiated the release of kidnapped Russian sailors.
This new found relationship is in many ways extraordinary and is but one illustration of Russia’s growing clout in Libya.
As for the UK, Britain’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson paid day visits to Libya last week. He went first to Tripoli to see poor beleaguered Serraj, with a separate meeting with Swehli as Serraj and Swelhi won't meet each other. But two days later when Boris journeyed to Tobruk for an hour's visit, he only met Saleh because Haftar could find no time to meet Johnson. Enough said.
The French will always have their own agenda in the South of Libya based on their interests in Central Africa, not only Libya.
To sum up, it’s a catch 22. Haftar will accept nothing less than to become commander of all Libyan armed forces, and that means Serraj must dissolve and disarm the militias which he has no ability or power to do.
This barbaric act at the Air Base will, I think, be the trigger for a massive escalation of the Libyan civil war.
The intensity and complexity of these issues will come to a head shortly particularly after the massacre at Brak and turn into a very dangerous violent phase due in part also to disgruntled Tripoli and Misratan militias and in my opinion culminating soon in the inevitable siege of both Misrata and Tripoli by Khalifa's LNA.
LNA Special Forces Commander, the legendary Col. Wanis Boukhamada commented " Our response to these treacherous crimes will be harsh on the battlefield"
Terrorist sleeper cells and snipers are allegedly already in place in and around Tripoli to conduct a long guerrilla war fare campaign should Tripoli be overtaken by Hafter. Its going to be something like Sarajevo.
The Libyan people have had enough and Europe will suffer considerably from these negative violent changes that are about to inevitably intensify between the warring parties within Libya after this massacre.
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