With unity government in Tripoli, focus shifts to ISIS fight
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.”