By Libya Herald correspondent.
Benghazi, 8 July 2015:
In another U-turn, General Khalifa Hafter, the head of the Libyan armed forces, has decided . . .[restrict]that Colonel Idris Madi should not only remain as head of the Western Region Operations Room based in Zintan but should also take charge of Central Region Operations Room.
This covers the area around Sirte currently controlled by Islamic State forces.
A senior aide to Hafter, who asked not to be named, confirmed the appointment to the Libya Herald. “He is the most suitable person to be in this position at the moment”, he said.
A month ago, Madi was relieved of his duties by Hafter, ostensibly on the grounds that he was not up to the job because of health issues, although it is thought that his criticism of the top brass for not providing sufficient equipment and support had been a more decisive reason. In his place, a Colonel Mansour Abdul-Jawad was reportedly appointed.
However, Madi refused to go, and was backed by local Libyan National Army (LNA) forces and supported forces, principally the Zintanis and Warshefana.
He is seen as having played a role in the growing reconciliation movement among towns in the west of the country. There has been a willingness by some to have LNA forces controlled by him back in their areas.
He has, however, also been close to the head of the LNA’s Derna Operations Room, Colonel Faraj Barasi, whom Hafter has also tried to remove, twice.
Barasi was first sacked in May as military commander in Benghazi. Then, having been appointed at the end of the month by the President of the House of Representatives, Ageela Saleh Gwaider, as head of the Derna Operations Room following pressure from the Barasa tribe, he was again sacked of 15 June, accused of incompetence, insubordination and plotting Hafter’s overthrow.
When Barasi’s second dismissal was announced, in an act of public solidarity, Madi went to the Jebel Akhdar to meet him and inspect his forces.
In the first U-turn a week and a half ago, Hafter agreed to Barasi continuing as Derna operations chief after Gwaider, again under pressure from Barasa tribal leaders, insisted on him staying.
It appears, however, that he is still not wanted by Hafter.
The senior aide who confirmed Madi’s new appointment today, acknowledged that the Western operations commander was close to Barasi but also added that it was hoped that Madi would distance himself from him and the relationship be broken. [/restrict]