By Moutaz Ali.
Tripoli, 9 October 2016:
The Libyan army’s southern commander claimed today to have scotched an attempt to replace him. Rebellious officers met on Friday in Brak Al-Shatti and chose General Suliman Kanah as their new chief.
General Mohamed Ben Nayel said that his troops had surrounded the rebel commanders and used mediators to persuade them to hand over their arms. According to LANA in Beida the rebels had then been allowed to go free. There was no mention of where this confrontation took place nor whether Kanah was among the disarmed commanders who were released.
Nayel blamed the attempted takeover on a conspiracy hatched by UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler which he said had been aimed to divide the Libyan army. Nayel added that the army had now reinforced its positions in Sebha.
The Brak Al-Shatti rebellion was seen as a challenge to armed forces commander-in-chef Khalifa Hafter. The rebels had said they still considered themselves under army orders but did not wish to become involved in polarised politics.
The army’s claimed success in countering the breakaway would appear to have increased its hold on Sebha, the major town in the south. Until July the dominant armed group was Misrata’s Third Force which in April 2014 had been sent south as peacekeepers.
However this July, as the manpower demands of the Bunyan Marosus operation against IS terrorists in Sirte increased, the greater part of the Third Force was withdrawn from the Sebha region.
It had been headquartered in Sebha’s Qadaffi-era People’s Palace and also occupied the Tamenhint airbase and barracks outside the town.