By Sami Zaptia.
London, 1 June 2020:
The Foreign Ministry Spokesperson for the internationally recognized Libyan government based in Tripoli, Mohamed Giblawi, said that his government will not negotiate with the commander of the mainly eastern based Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Hafter.
Speaking to French RFI radio, Giblawi said Hafter ‘‘is not a partner not a partner in the political process and will be an obstacle to any political solution’’.
The forces defending Tripoli have made huge geographical gains since April pushing Hafter’s forces out of western coastal towns such as Sabrata and Surman as well as gaining the strategic Witya airbase. Their forces are choking Hafter’s forces around the disused Tripoli International Airport and pushing towards Hafter’s last remaining western stronghold, Tarhuna.
Asked about recent calls for a ceasefire and Tripoli’s military aims, Giblawi said Tripoli seeks ‘‘to control the entire Libyan territory to manage the political process’’. The implication is that Tripoli, emboldened by recent battlefield victories and aerial support from its ally Turkey, seeks not only to push Hafter’s forces out of the western region, but to ‘‘liberate’’ all of Libya, including the east.
It is not clear if this is just internal and external posturing and signalling , to gain a stronger domestic and international bargaining position or the realization that Hafter needs to be eliminated out of the equation to force a Libya-wide peace settlement.
On the recent increased US interest in the Libyan crisis, Giblawi said Tripoli ‘‘expects a stronger role from the United States of America to achieve stability (and) that (the USA) has played a role in Libya’s independence and has to be a key player now in the process of political stability and development’’.