By Senussi Bsaikri
I have looked into the motives of the Dignity Operation the early days of its launch, and the focus of this debate was on two fundamental elements.
The first is that the phenomenon of assassinations, which occurred in Benghazi during the years 2012-2014, requires solidarity that combines wisdom and strength in addressing the situation.
The second is that Dignity Operation’s approach to the risk of assassinations and explosions is booby-trapped and its consequences will be even more dangerous today, consequently many of Haftar’s supporters came to the conclusion that the whole matter was just for a political purpose.
Since the first attack of Haftar’s forces back on 14 May 2014 on several battalions, it was crystal clear that the primary purpose of the Dignity Operation was for political aims, due to the fact that the battalions targeted were far away from any radicalism, moreover, they were highly praised for their role in imposing security and stability across the country, when and where they were needed, especially in the south, the forefront of those battalions was Malik Brigade belonging to the Omar Al-Mukhtar battalion.
Haftars’ cries and slogans captured a mass section of people because of fear and panic over the insecurity situation that began to spread, including the series of assassinations, which constituted the most striking manifestations; while in return, there was a complete paralysis and the absence of any effective endeavour to confront this terrible threat.
And if we are to add to this horror the way the rebels have handled the new developments after the launch of the Dignity Operation, starting from their negative attitude towards the army or the inability to play a vital role in facing the insecurity situation in the city and also allowing extremists to fight in the ranks of the Benghazi Shura Council, all of this made it easy for Haftar to convince a substantial proportion of people who were looking for a way out of this complete darkness that had surrounded Benghazi that those groups were just terrorists and extremists.
This terror that seized hearts and paralyzed minds, and then the “Savior” who jumped into the seen relying on the support from the outside, which the Libyan state represented in its executive institutions was unable to provide, has been a vital fuel for the Dignity Operation to move towards its political goal using the two slogans mentioned above “the war on terror and establishing the armed forces.”
In view of the results of the Dignity Operation today and after the end of hostilities in the old neighbourhood of Ikreebish in the centre of Benghazi, the purpose of the operation has become clear.
The considerable debate today is how to establish the army and over the legitimacy of its practices and loyalty to its leader.
The events that took place in the city of Benghazi a few months ago also revealed that the vast majority of the battalions who fought under the name of the army have not only been irresponsible, but also committed criminal acts; moreover, they are today the major cause of the worrying security situation.
As for the motto “the war on terror”, it happened to be some kind of political card.
The terrorist group that was in Derna managed to escape, cutting about 600 kilometres in the open desert without being intercepted by an aircraft.
ISIS members in Benghazi escaped in such a way that made field commanders themselves doubt if Haftar is capable of administering the war and demanded an investigation into the case.
Not to mention the many instances over the involvement of some power circles in the army in the ongoing assassinations.
What is more important is that Haftar is now running for presidency, after all the slogans he launched, and after he repeatedly stated from the first days, weeks and months of the Dignity Operation that power is not of his aspirations and presidency is not of his goals.
The war on terror had taken a terrible toll in Benghazi. It spanned for about four years, while it took only 7 months to defeat ISIS, the largest and most dangerous group in Sirte.
Benghazi and the cities of Cyrenaica paid a high human cost in this war, exceeding tens of thousands between dead and wounded, while the war in Sirte did not exceed the number 700 of death cases and three thousand wounded, with no comparison between the destruction or the social disruption caused in both cities.
In addition, you could notice with me that the end of the war in Benghazi coincided with the decision of Haftar to abandon military force and take on the peaceful path of elections to achieve his basic goal.
In the sense that the flaming war was the fuel for the political battle directed by Haftar on the local and international fronts, and a pressure card to move towards the basic goal of this process, which was the post of Presidency.
Haftar began his political adventure for power in Tripoli by announcing his coup against the elected authority in February 2014. After failing in plan A, he moved to Benghazi and launched his war for the same purpose.
Haftar will continue his political struggle to reach his goal and Benghazi will continue to bear the heavy and dangerous burden of that war in perpetuity.
Senussi Bsaikri, Libyan writer and political commentator