With unity government in Tripoli, focus shifts to ISIS fight

Friday 08/04/2016
Faiez al-Sarraj being greeted by people in Tripoli

TUNIS - The so-called National Sal­vation body in Libya re­versed its stance on sup­porting the UN-backed unity government of Faiez al-Sarraj and threatened legal action against those working with the new government.
Khalifa Ghwell, the National Sal­vation leader, told ministers under his control to “continue your mis­sion in accordance with the law”. The statement contradicts the group’s announced decision to step aside in favour of the Government of National Accord.
That position, along with support from the National Oil Corporation, which controls the country’s oil and gas, and the Central Bank, seemed to clear the way for the Sarraj-led government. Ghwell’s comments of April 6th returned the overall Liby­an situation to chaos.
The twist is likely to hinder the UN-backed government’s efforts re­garding a burgeoning Islamic State (ISIS) presence in Libya. Setbacks in Syria and Iraq have caused ISIS to shift its forces, with an esti­mated 5,000 reaching Libya. There is international concern that ISIS could reach out from Libya and af­fect security and stability across the Maghreb and into sub-Saharan areas.
Libya had apparently been mass­ing its own campaign against ISIS, particularly in coastal areas such as Sirte and Sabratha. Intelligence sources told The Arab Weekly that more than 15,000 soldiers and for­mer militia members were muster­ing to face the Islamist group.
“This will bring militias out of Tripoli and bolster security in the Libyan capital,” one source said. “It will also show the world that Liby­ans are capable of fighting (ISIS) on their own and avoid a foreign mili­tary intervention.”
Ismail Alghwol Alsharif, a House of Representatives member who backs Sarraj’s government, said: “The security plan of the unity gov­ernment calls for deploying militia forces from at least ten regions to fight Daesh (an Arabic acronym for ISIS). It expects militias to leave Tripoli and relocate to bases at least 80km from the capital as part of ef­forts to restore security and peace to the capital.
“Trust me. The fight against Daesh has and will continue to ce­ment unity among Libyans.”