Tribal gathering in Benghazi affirms support for Haftar

By Alessandra Bocchi.

Tunis, 10 March 2017:

Representatives from tribes across the country (but mainly from the east) have reaffirmed their support for the Libyan National Army (LNA) and Khalifa Hafter at a large tribal gathering in Benghazi.

Hosted by the Awagir tribe, the meeting in Benghazi’s Sidi Khalifa district accused the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) which captured Ras Lanuf and Sidra last week from the LNA of being funded from abroad and of being extremists and affiliated to Al-Qaeda. They also accused the Tripoli-based Presidency Council of backing the BDB.

The support for Hafter and the LNA was expected. Since the attack on the oil terminals, public opinion in the east has closed ranks, rallying solidly behind the LNA amid what is seen as concerns that the Cyrenaica is under attack from the forces from the west of the country.

In their statement, the tribes, joined by a number of civil society organisations, also condemned the call this week by France, the UK and the US for an immediate end to hostilities, saying their statement was “suspicious and unacceptable” as well as being an attempt to undermine Egypt’s role in resolving Libya’s problems

Egypt is, in fact, believed to have lost patience with Hafter after he refused to meet with Presidency Council leader Faiez Serraj in Cairo last month in Egyptian-mediated attempt to bridge the divide.

The BDB in turn accuse Hafter’s Operation Dignity of having forced 300,000 Benghazinos to flee the city since it was launched nearly three years ago. Fifty thousand are now living in Misrata alone, it is claimed.

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