Haftar’s comments come days after US ambassador to Libya said the strongman could play a role in unifying Libya’s military establishment.

Libya’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar has said his forces will “not submit” to any state authority, days after the US ambassador to the country said the strongman could play a role in unifying the military establishment.

In a speech marking the 81st anniversary of the founding of the Libyan army, Haftar said on Monday that his forces would “not be subject to any authority, and will not surrender”.

His comments come days after Richard Norland, the US ambassador to Libya, told Al Jazeera that Haftar could play a role in unifying the war-ravaged country’s military establishment.

Libya has endured years of chaos since a Nato-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Fighting between rival militias and competing administrations – including a failed offensive by Haftar and his forces to capture the country’s capital Tripoli – came to a halt last summer, and a formal ceasefire went into effect in October, followed by the establishment in March of a new unity government led by interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.

The interim government will oversee the country until the upcoming elections that are currently slated for 24 December. However, the elections have faced setbacks as delegates for the Forum for Libya’s Political Dialogue (LPDF) were recently unable to agree on the legal framework needed to organise the vote.

‘Difficult military person’

While the unification of Libyan institutions and the government should have put an end to the divisions in practice, forces loyal to Haftar still have effective control over eastern Libya – including lucrative oil fields.

Critics of parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, who was allied with Haftar during his 2019-20 assault on Tripoli, also regard the election setbacks as evidence that eastern-based forces are attempting to sabotage the process.

On the other hand, Saleh and his allies in eastern Libya blamed the Government of National Unity (GNU) for the failure to unify institutions, and the parliament speaker warned last month that a failure to hold elections meant another rival administration could be set up in the east.

In an interview last month with Reuters, Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah said it would be “very difficult” to unify the country’s military, but there is an ongoing dialogue with Haftar.

“Of course, communicating with Haftar, he is a difficult military person, but we communicate with him. But things are not easy,” Dbeibah said.

UN special envoy for Libya Jan Kubis has also said that Haftar’s forces have not allowed Dbeibah’s unity government to take control of the area it commands.

‘Hold perpetrators to account’

On Friday, Amnesty International urged the Libyan unity government to prosecute members of the Internal Security Agency (ISA), a collection of armed groups operating in eastern Libya, instead of reconciling with them.

“Instead of incorporating armed groups suspected of crimes under international law into state institutions and trying to secure their allegiance or score political points by granting them financial backing, the Government of National Unity and those with de facto control of territory must take steps to hold perpetrators to account,” said Heba Morayef, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa office.

Any attempts to integrate members of militias or armed groups must involve rigorous and thorough individual vetting.”

Multiple Libyan families have filed lawsuits against Haftar over the past couple of years: two filed in Virginia and one in Washington, for alleged war crimes, accusing the US national of murder, starvation and torture among other charges.

In one suit, a family was forced to take shelter from Haftar’s forces’ bombings in an unoccupied apartment in the suburb of Ganfouda, where they ate tree bark and grass and drank water from puddles in order to survive.

Haftar initially did not respond to the suit, but after facing the possibility of a default judgment, he hired lawyers for his defence. His legal team claims the Libyan commander is immune from prosecution since he should be treated as a head of state.

Norland declined to comment on the lawsuits in the interview with Al Jazeera.


Haftar: My troops will not submit to any authority

Khalifa Haftar asserted that his troops will not be subordinate to any authority in Libya unless it is dully elected by the Libyan people

Retired field marshal Khalifa Haftar, one of Libya’s most divisive personalities, has said that his troops would not subordinate to any government that has not been duly elected by the Libyan people.

In a speech marking the 81st anniversary of the establishment of the Libyan army, Haftar stated that his forces “will not be subject to any authority except to an authority that will be directly elected by the people.”

In a speech marking the 81st anniversary of the establishment of the Libyan army, Haftar stated that his forces “will not be subject to any authority except to an authority that will be directly elected by the people.”

The Field Marshal, who is stationed in the eastern city of Benghazi, said that his troops would resist any pressure directed at them and indicated that it would impede the city’s efforts to collaborate with the present Libyan authority.

According to a statement issued by his office in February, Haftar announced his support for the new transitional government and a “peaceful and democratic alternation of power” in Libya.

However, it is worth noting that his actions continue to contradict his statements since maintaining Libya’s armed forces divided would violate one of the GNA’s major objectives of uniting the country’s military institutions.

Despite the failure of his 2019 assault, when the previous UN-recognized government of national agreements repulsed his invasion of Tripoli with assistance from Turkey and Qatar, Haftar and his troops continue to rule the bulk of the country’s eastern area.


Haftar rejects subordination to current Libyan authorities

Walid Abdullah

Warlord says his putschist militia will only join authority elected by Libyan people.

fa Haftar on Monday said his militia would not be subordinate to the current Libyan government, claiming that it would only deal with a popularly elected authority.

In a speech on the 81st anniversary of the Libyan army’s establishment, Haftar said his militia “won’t be subject to any authority except to an authority that will be directly elected by the people.”

Haftar, who is based in the eastern city of Benghazi, added that his militia would withstand any pressure in this direction and hinted that he would hinder any attempt by the city to work with the current Libyan authorities.

In June 2020, Haftar’s putschist militia sustained a severe defeat and fled from areas it had previously controlled in western Libya.

On Feb. 5, Libyan political groups agreed in UN-mediated talks to form an interim unity government to lead the country to elections this December, designating a prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, and tasking him with forming a new government.

Libyans hope that the move will end years of civil war that have engulfed the country since the ouster and killing of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.



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