By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 11 August 2014:
In what was described by a House of Representatives (HoR) member as a rough session, Libya’s . . .[restrict]Chief of Staff Major General Abdussalam Jadallah Al-Obeidi faced numerous tough accusations in a grueling session that lasted over three hours yesterday.
The Chief of Staff made some astonishing revelations in Tobruk, some of which might could result in him losing his job or even facing legal prosecution.
Obeidi was accused of cooperating with the Libya Shield brigades and various militias, the state-recognised and state-funded units that are currently fighting one another and wreaking collateral damage in Tripoli.
This destruction has included much of Libya’s fleet of passenger planes, its international airport, Tripoli’s fuel depot, as well as the indiscriminate shelling of civilians in residential areas.
The Chief of Staff looked “uncomfortable” and one Representative described his face as “going red and unable to answer questions” while facing serious accusations.
Under intense questioning, Obeidi admitted that he has no control over the militias and Shields currently fighting. Furthermore, he admitted that the army was on the verge of collapse. He also claimed that the “attacking” forces in Tripoli were not following his instructions and that he was unable to issue orders for a ceasefire.
Accused by Representatives of recently approving the supply of arms and ammunition from the Jufra base to Shields during the attack on Tripoli, Obeidi did not deny the charge, but said that as far as he knew it was the supply of light arms to defend the Chief of Staff’s HQ in Tripoli from attacks by militias.
It was pointed out to the Chief of Staff that the Jufra base only held heavy arms, Obeidi was reported to have panicked and unable to respond.
It was put to the Chief of Staff that between LD 13-14 billion had been spent on the army since the 2011 revolution, yet still no army had been built. Asked as to where this huge amount of money was spent, the Chief of Staff admitted that it went to the Shields/militias. He further admitted in a damning indictment that some Shields existed only on paper.
HoR Representative Tareq Jaroushy on a live TV programme, confirmed all the above details and added that a group of Representatives had asked that the Chief of Staff be referred to the Attorney General for prosecution for incompetence and complicity in the attacks on Tripoli. The Chief of Staff was being held responsible for the fighting taking place.
Jaroushy said that there was widespread sentiment in the HoR to disband the Shields and militias, however, he admitted that there was debate and disagreement on the procedure of how to proceed.
He also admitted that there was a group who were worried about the vacuum resulting from such a move. There was concern about what would be used as a force instead of the Shields and militias. “We are between a hammer and an anvil (a rock and a hard place)”, said the Representative with regards to this dilemma.
One option being considered by the HoR is to disband the militias in stages over a period of time, starting with the disbanding of militias based within the cities and those engaged in fighting.
Jaroushy also revealed that a group of Representatives, believed to be around 30 and mainly from the south, objected to disbanding militias in the south of the country charged with protecting oil fields and the borders.
Jaroushy also admitted that a large group of Representatives were planning to put forward a motion for the sacking of Obeidi. The Chief of Staff was being held responsible for the fighting taking place.
An evening session was to be allocated to questioning of Caretaker Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni in which he is to report on the latest situation in Libya generally and the fighting in Tripoli and Benghazi. He is also to report on his recent trip to the USA.
Benghazi’s Special Forces (Saiqa) commander Wanis Boukhmada is also to be questioned about the fighting in Benghazi and the unofficial Operation Dignity against the extremists in the city. He too is to report on his recent trip to the USA.
The HoR also received an official delegation from the Egyptian government which delivered a message of support from Egyptian President Sisi. [/restrict]