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Libya Interim Govt. FM to Asharq Al-Awsat: Qatar Expanding its Clout by Backing Political Islam

Libya Interim Govt. FM to Asharq Al-Awsat: Qatar Expanding its Clout by Backing Political Islam

Saturday, 15 June, 2019 - 05:45
A member of LNA holds his weapon as he heads out of Benghazi to reinforce the troops advancing to Tripoli, in Benghazi, Libya April 7, 2019. (Reuters)
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat

Foreign Minister of the interim Libyan government Abdul Hadi al-Hweij accused Qatar, Turkey and Iran of supporting the militias in the capital, Tripoli, saying that they have supplied them with weapons and vehicles.

The whole world has witnessed this support, he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Qatar,” he continued, “constantly aspires to become a center of power, which is why it has backed political Islam and used it as a means to expand its agenda.”

He said that Doha has followed in Ankara’s footsteps in meddling in the affairs of the region through supporting political Islam.

Addressing the United States’ stance on battle for Tripoli, Hweij said he believes that the Americans will not be “swayed by false claims.”

“They realize that the Libyan National Army (LNA) has marched on the capital to liberate it from terrorism and to impose stability,” the minister said.

The LNA, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, launched an operation to cleanse Tripoli of criminal and terrorist gangs on April 4. The offensive pits the LNA against the Government of National Accord (GNA) of Fayez al-Sarraj and militias that are loyal to it.

He denied that the fate of the interim government and rule in Libya were being held hostage by Haftar, saying: “The Libyan leadership will be determined by the will of the people through ballot boxes.”

Commenting on the possibility of resuming the political process, Hweij said: “We welcome all suggestions as long as they favor the interests of the Libyan people. The problem, however, lies with the other party (Sarraj) that has proven it is not serious about reaching a political solution.”

“This is demonstrated by his hiding behind the militias. He has even almost become like their spokesman,” he added, while expressing the interim government’s complete support for the LNA operation.

“There can be no substitute to the political process, but this operation must be preceded with the elimination of militias. We cannot talk about elections and a democratic life as long as the current situation persists. We cannot accept dialogue with any party that supports or represents terrorism,” he stressed.

Addressing Haftar’s recent trip to Russia, Hweij denied allegations that it was aimed at garnering Moscow’s military support for the LNA.

On claims that ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had fled to Libya, the minister said: “So far, there is no clear evidence to confirm his presence on Libyan territories. There are some indications, however, that he may be.”

The LNA is determined to uproot terrorism from the South, he vowed, while acknowledging media reports that said Baghdadi had instructed his supporters to carry out terrorist attacks against the army in the region.

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