By Jamie Prentis.
Tunis, 21 January 2017:
The military successes of Khalifa Hafter are overblown, Presidency Council deputy chairman Ahmed Maetig has said. “He is just a militiaman with good propaganda”.
But while dismissing Hafter and saying the majority of the army was in the west, Maetig insisted in an interview with Middle East Eye that Libya’s militias could be absorbed into a single army and had a critical role to play. However, he has also admitted that various armed factions were among the PC’s biggest problems.
Maetig pointed to the recent Bunyan Marsous operation which ousted IS from its Sirte stronghold. He said it proved what pro-government militias could achieve if they cooperated.
“We have had some victories. The roads are now open and you can travel from Tripoli to Benghazi by bus. Not long ago Islamic State were here and now they’re gone. We were successful in our fight against IS.”
Maetig belittled Hafter and the Libyan National Army. “I don’t think Hafter has an army,” he said. “He has some militias under his umbrella, but more than 70 per cent of the Libyan army is in the west. No one is looking for militias to protect and control the nation, this is very clear.”
Maetig denied that the PC had turned out to be impotent but he admitted it had been destabilised by the resignation of Musa Koni and weakened by power blackouts and shortages of cash. But he insisted the Government of National Accord remained the only option.
“Can you imagine what it would be like without the GNA?”, he asked MEE. “What would the future of the country be then? Always, when you have a new state, many institutions do not function and when you take measures to put things on track in the short-term people feel more pain.”
Maetig also scorned Khalifa Ghwell and his so-called National Salvation Government which last week briefly occupied a number of ministries in Tripoli. “He is sending a message of failure,” Maetig said.