By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 21 May 2014:
The movement “Operation Dignity,” launched on Friday in Benghazi by General . . .[restrict]Khalifa Hafter which claims it wants to “cleanse” the country of terrorists armed groups – and also to remove a the General National Congress (GNC) and the government – appears to be attracting growing support. A steady flow of key figures, military units, state institutions and town councils have come out in favour, despite the operation being condemned by the government as an “attempted coup” and orders being issued for the arrest of Hafter.
One of the most prominent so far to back him is Libya’s ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi. He has declared his support in a statement posted on his official Facebook page. Reports that both Culture Minister Habib Al-Amin and the acting Interior Minister, Salah Mazigh, also came out in support have since been denied.
The Tobruk Airbase Staff pledged its support to the movement, stressing that “we are not staging a coup, but are rather striving to establish stability…through the peaceful transmission of power, and to fight against terrorism of all kinds.”
The head of Libya’s Air Defence Juma Al-Abani announced yesterday that the division was backing Operation Dignity. Shortly afterwards, its Tripoli headquarters was targeted late last night in an attack by heavy weaons.
The Second Security Battalion for the Protection of the Homeland, stationed in southern Libya, declared that it would “wholly join, with weapons and armaments, the National Army under the command of General Khalifa Belgasim Haftar.” The group added that it was “ready to carry out any commands to protect the country and its people”.
Haftar also now has the official backing of Benghazi’s Special Forces, several branches of the Libyan military intelligence, as well as, reportedly, the Benghazi Navy. Other forces that have declared support include those in the Jebel Nafusa and the Jebel Al-Akhdar.
Several local councils have released official statements pledging their full support of the movement, including Kufra Local Council.
“We have agreed on the need to put an end to this massacre and the crimes which are being perpetrated on a daily basis (in Benghazi), and have stressed the need to establish a Libyan army and police force,” The Revolutionaries of Kufra said in a statement. “We pledge to give them our full support in order to be able to establish stability in Libya and preserve its security and unity. The Kufra Revolutionaries are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of security and safety in all Libyan cities.”
Former prime minister Ali Zeidan, who has been living in Europe since he was ousted on a vote of no confidence by the GNC , has also backed General Haftar, calling on all Libyans to “support the army’s war on terrorism”.
There also appears to be a wave of popular support on the street for Hafter. The talk in Tripoli coffee bars, a barometer of public opinion, at least in the capital, in firmly in favour of the renegade general. [/restrict]