By Sawsan Abu-Husain
Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala considers the upcoming meeting between Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar and Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj a positive action following the political block.
He called upon all parties to make concessions for the nation’s greater good.
During an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Siala said that the crucial point is that military leadership remains under the political leadership.
Siala believes that the U.N. Envoy Martin Kobler is being pessimistic. He stressed that the presidential guard is not a substitute for the army.
When asked about the visit of Khalifa Haftar to Cairo, the FM said it is an important visit and Haftar is part of the solution and not the problem. He added that Haftar was appointed by the parliament, but has to agree to work under political leadership.
Haftar’s agreement to meet with PM Sarraj is a good sign, according to the FM. Yet, he believes that it is important for the meeting to be held without discretion and wishes the parties would be ready to move into a better phase that serves the Libyan people and maintain its unity and stability.
When asked about Haftar’s solution to name a Defense Minister whose job is to build the army and reinstate security and combat terrorism, Siala said that this is one of the proposed solutions.
According to the FM, the most important thing is that military leadership operates under the political leadership.
He added that he is not speaking of individuals but rather the military institution itself, which should be a patriotic organization that runs according to the political vision.
Regarding the Government of National Accord (GNA), Siala said that the parliament didn’t grant its confidence vote and asked for another government that represents all Libyan areas.
FM Siala believes that U.N. Special Envoy Martin Kobler is pessimistic, adding that moving forward should be a priority to build the government’s institution during the first quarter of 2017.
In his response to the criticism that the presidential council didn’t achieve anything yet, Siala said he understands people’s disapproval, but added that the council doesn’t have any funds to spend on any services for the Libyan people.
The FM also denied allegations that the presidential council spends from the revenues of the oil. He explained that they are set as part of the reserves.
When asked about the security measures, the FM said that the presidential guard has been formed, which is not a substitute for the army. He added that the guard can help the police when needed.
Siala agreed with the closing statement of the neighbors conference that agreed on political solution for Libya and rejected any foreign intervention, which will end when Libyan institutions are installed and disagreements are solved.
Speaking of foreign intervention, the FM considers the U.S. and Italian operations in Libya as part of counter-terrorism. He said that terrorism has inflicted the whole world and not just Libya, adding that Washington intervened in Sirte under the request of the presidential council. He explained that it is limited to logistic and reconnaissance cooperation and executing military strikes when needed and in specific areas only.
Concerning the rumors of a U.S.-Russian deal to end the struggle in Libya, the FM said that those are predictions and nothing can be said for sure.
“We will see how the new political leadership in U.S. will act,” he added.
The FM said that there are several attempts to help Libyans reach an agreement. He welcomed all efforts and suggestions to form committees or councils.
According to FM Siala, Arab League Special Envoy to Libya Salaheddine Jamali, as well as other parties, will visit Libya soon. He added on January 27, the African quintet meeting will be held in Brazzaville, Congo.