By Libya Herald reporter.
Misrata, 11 May 2015:
UAE flags were burned yesterday at a small protest in Misrata, believed to have been . . .[restrict]organised by the local Muslim Brotherhood. It followed a visit to the Emirates last week by the Mayor of Misrata, Mohamed Eshtewi. He was accompanied by Misrata councillor Ali Busetta and former Deputy President of the General National Congress, Juma Ateega. The latter, who has maintained good contacts in the UAE, had organised the three-day trip.
According to Eshtewi, speaking on local Misrata radio after returning, the talks with UAE officials responsible for relations with Libya had been both useful and positive.
For their part, he said, the three had put Misrata’s point of view about the General National Congress, the government in Tripoli, the House of Representatives, the UN-sponsored Dialogue and a government of national unity as well as Misrata’s own local efforts at reconciliation including its agreements with the Warshefana and the Magarha.
In particular, the talks had focussed on two issues:
- 1) Accusations that the UAE was involved in air strikes last year in Tripoli;
- 2) The five remaining Libyan businessmen detained in the UAE a year ago.
With regard to the former, the Emiratis had repeated earlier denials of any such involvement, the mayor said. As to the latter, the UAE had said that the businessmen were facing criminal charges relating to weapons smuggling and they would be put on trial.
The Misratans had asked to see the Libyans in jail, but for what appears to have been a number of technical reasons this was not granted. The mayor also said that the Emiratis had promised that the trial would be fair.
In a more startling statement, he further claimed that the Emiratis had said that they would no longer support General Khalifa Hafter and that they had said he was a “source of tension” in Libya and “a concern”.
Hafter was himself in the UAE a fortnight ago for military talks with the authorities there.
A source in UAE closely connected to dealings with Libya today said that the UAE saw the Misrata visit as a chance to draw it “back into the fold” and away from Libya Dawn. The same source also pointed out that Hafter had not been received by the head of the UAE military, and that apart from meeting Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, had spent much of his visit sightseeing.
Clearly angry that the delegation had gone to Abu Dhabi in the first place, and evidently hoping to gather local support, yesterday’s protestors demanded more be done in Misrata, in particular for the local hospital. They were also opposed to Misrata’s decision to withdraw forces from the west, demanding that more be done to support the city’s troops on the front lines. They further demanded that the city take a firm position against the latest UNSMIL draft proposals to resolve the Libyan crisis.
They did not appear to have much support locally and were not large in number. [/restrict]