By Maha Ellawati.
Benghazi, 27 October 2017:
The Libyan National Army (LNA) had set a six-month deadline for negotiations to resolve the country’s crisis but if they fail, it would move on Tripoli. Speaking in Al-Abyar on Wednesday at a press conference, the LNA’s spokesman, Colonel Ahmed Mismari, claimed that the army was now preparing to go to the capital and that people there were happy to welcome it.
“We have a strategy to end this crisis,” he said at the conference at which attendance was limited to the military.
The army would not allow the present chaos in Tripoli to continue, he added. Having defeated terrorism in Benghazi, the west of the country was now an LNA operational area and preparations were being made for what he called “the next phase”.
The next battle, he said, would be “the decisive battle for the Libyan army”.
Suggesting that nothing was expected from the current political dialogue, he accused the negotiators from the House of Representatives and the State Council who have been meeting in Tunis of protracting the crisis. They were sitting in hotels talking about the crisis while Libyans suffered, he said.
There were also those who were happily prolonging the crisis for personal gain, he claimed, accusing them of betraying the country. As a result, foreign powers such as Qatar as well as criminals and terrorists had been able to exploit the situation. Foreign countries were trying to extend their control and influence over Libya through puppets in Libya, he said.
Only the Libyan army, not the politicians, could ensure safety and security in Libya and create a stable state respected by others.
Mismari laid stress on cooperating with what was described as neighbouring countries and other Arab armed forces, as well as with Europe, to devise a long-term strategy to crush terrorism and, in particular in Libya’s case, to prevent them taking over the oil fields or carrying out bombing and assassination campaigns.
The neighbouring and Arab countries he was referring to are thought to be Egypt and the UAE.
Mismari also suggested links between organised crime in Libya and in Italy, with illegal immigrants being murdered in Libya for body parts then sold in Italy; he mentioned Bangladeshis in particular being killed. He spoke of fuel smuggling, too, and referred to the possibility that the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia 11 days ago was linked to he smuggling of oil from Libya.
The speech was Mismari’s first public statement since returning to Libya a fortnight ago following a major working tour that took him to Tunis, Moscow, Cairo and the UAE.