Since this interview was completed there have been critical developments worthy of mention here.
It was surprising to see Russia and China among the 20 nations that pushed the Vienna agenda through, ignoring the fact that the Libyan people and the tribes had been excluded from dialog and had no part in the Libyan Political Agreement (Skhirat). The much touted “internationally recognized government” in Tobruk never legitimized this regime, which maintains the GoA’s dubious status.
Although present at the Vienna meeting, Egypt continues to ignore the “unity government” and support the Libyan army (LNA) in their fight against terrorism, in defiance of the Vienna communiqué’s rule that no nation can support or fund parallel institutions. Egypt understands that to give weapons to the GoA would be equal to shooting itself in the foot.
Yesterday, Khalifa Hafter (a controversial figure given his history with the CIA) announced his trip to Moscow to discuss Russian support in the fight against da’esh. Haftar has been in contact with Moscow numerous times since the launch of “operation dignity”. If Russia agrees to aid the legitimate army, this will disrupt, and quite possibly defeat the NATO nations’ agenda in Libya, eroding what remaining modicum of influence the GoA has.
Russia would have to know who they agreed to place at the helm of the nation. The UN did not conceal who they were holding meetings with in Istanbul, or that their “president s-elect” was working with Turkish-Saudi-Qatari intelligence.
It is inconceivable that Russia could fight these same terrorist groups in Syria and legitimize them in Libya. By doing so they jeopardize the success of their mission in Syria, as the US and UN continue to protect “moderate terrorists”.
Today, Fayez Serraj was in Doha seeking support for a UN resolution that would legitimize the de facto regime.
May 25, 2016
HT: I understand you have a correction to make to a comment made on our first interview.
AV: Yes. Recall that on April 12, Martin Kobler admitted that the Government of Accord (GoA) existed only on paper without the approval of the internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR).
I said that April 19th the HoR had given a vote of confidence to the GoA, but that was only conditional. In addition to demands for amendments to legal documents, they required a meeting with the GoA in Tobruk. This frustrated foreign powers anxious to instate the regime, as the GoA were unable to travel beyond Tripoli, even under the protection of their militias – and inside Tripoli they required constant guard.
HT: So the HoR never acknowledged the legitimacy of the GoA?
AV: No.The President of the HoR, Ageela Saleh, continues to extend the invitation for dialog, but his requests are ignored.
Because the HoR never acknowledged the GoA, by the United Nations’ guidelines, in accord with international law, the unity government remains illegitimate, regardless of what occurred in Vienna. Nonetheless, the day after the Vienna meeting, Fayez Serraj, head of the Presidential Council (PC), activated the GoA, declaring the Tobruk parliament and the Libyan National Army in its current form, obsolete.
HT: What happened in Vienna?
The Vienna meeting was the catastrophic finale, a masterful propaganda event jointly chaired by US secretary of state, John Kerry and Italian foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni. Twenty nations were co-conspirators in the coup d’état that declared an illegitimate government legitimate and formalized the permanent foreign occupation of Libya. They placed terrorists in power and committed arms and funds to terrorist militias (Presidential Guard) tasked to protect the regime.
HT: Who are the Presidential Guard and what does this mean in terms of legitimizing extremist militias?
AV: In our earlier interview I referred to concerns expressed by human rights organizations, lawyers and the Resistance regarding the Skhirat Agreement (December17,2015). They warned that the unity government would not end human rights abuses, but grant full immunity to violators.
The Libya Political Agreement (LPA -Skhirat) is referred to in the Vienna communiqué. The LPA included the disarming and dismantling of militias. However, since the GoA arrived in Tripoli, extremist militias operating under the “Libya Dawn” umbrella, were assigned to guard the PC. Simultaneously, Martin Koebler met in Istanbul with commanders of these militias, including al Qaeda’s Abdel Hakim Belhadj, to finalize power-sharing arrangements that would define their function under the regime. The plan was to replace the Libyan National Army (LNA) with the Presidential and National Guard.
HT: What can you tell us about the assassination campaign against members of the Libyan National Army?
AV: Regarding the Istanbul meetings held under the auspices of Turkish intelligence, Arabs of London published a detailed exposé. Khaled al-Sharif of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) proposed the assassination campaign targeting officers of the Libyan National Army as a means of neutralizing opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood’s usurpation of Libya. Since then, many members of the army in Tripoli have been killed. It is no coincidence that da’esh are carrying out the same campaign in Sirte.
HT: How have the people responded?
AV: The Vienna meeting took place at a time when the country was in the midst of escalating crisis; the advance of da’esh on several fronts, a humanitarian disaster, hospitals and clinics closed due to lack of equipment, medicine and supplies, people impoverished, displaced and food scarce.
Military operations conducted by the Tribes and Libyan National Army were underway to liberate Sirte while the campaign to clear Benghazi of terrorist elements continued and battles for Derna and Misrata intensified. Bani Walid, under threat from da’esh, was on high alert, yet its people extended the warmest welcome to thousands of refugees fleeing Sirte who escaped before all routes in and out of Sirte were closed.
In the face of these and other enormous challenges, people from every region of the country have made their rejection of the unity government and the Muslim Brotherhood coup d’état known. There have been widespread demonstrations. The people stand behind the Libyan National Army, demand the dismantling of militias, support efforts to combat terrorism and reject foreign interference. The HoR continue to function. The Libyan National Army operate under the authority of the HoR. In the Sirte operation, they have refused to cooperate with the Presidential Guard. The Tribes have their own security arrangements with regards to territorial defense and the liberation of Sirte. They are working with the LNA’s “unified command center”, independent from the GoA and their terrorist militias.
HT: How do you think the Resistance will respond to the current situation?
AV: The Resistance stands with the Tribes and the people.
HT: What impact will installing a Muslim Brotherhood government in Libya have on the region?
AV: A massive expansion of the war theater, an escalation of terrorism, weapons smuggling and human trafficking throughout Africa and the Middle East. In my view, the various organizations working within the Muslim Brotherhood network differ in degree but not in kind. There can be no effective end to terror without dealing with the specter of the Muslim Brotherhood in its entirety.
HT: Could you discuss the human rights situation in Libya?
AV: Advances in securing the release of some political prisoners came solely through the dedicated work of the Tribes. Neither the Tripoli nor Tobruk governments exerted any effort to improve the human rights situation or relieve civilian suffering. Now that the GoA have been placed in power, human rights will further deteriorate. The fact that terrorist militias in Tripoli have been granted immunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and ongoing human rights violations is an indicator of what the future holds under the GoA.
HT: What do you think the future holds for Libya?
AV: Libya has been at war since the beginning of the NATO invasion of 2011. It is not a civil war as Stratfor-sourced reports would have people believe. It has always been a struggle for removal of occupation forces and foreign multinationals exploiting Libya’s resource wealth. It has been a war against terrorism; terrorism brought to Libya by NATO.
Now that struggle will become more focused and aggressive.
Because of the irrepressible spirit, courage, dignity and resilience of the Libyan people, I have no doubt that they will overcome all obstacles in their path and successfully liberate their country from terrorism and foreign occupation.