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Calls for Rallies in Libya Capital Reflect Disputes between Sarraj and his Aides

Calls for Rallies in Libya Capital Reflect Disputes between Sarraj and his Aides

Saturday, 8 August, 2020 - 06:45
People are seen shopping at a market in the old city of Tripoli, Libya. (Reuters)

Disputes between Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) chief Fayez al-Sarraj and his aides have again come out into the open over calls for rallies against his cabinet in the capital Tripoli.

Sarraj’s deputy, Ahmed Maiteeq had called on the GNA Interior Ministry to protect the protesters, saying the people have the right to express themselves and demand a probe into squandered funds.

In a letter to Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, he said: “It is only natural for people to express their anger against their government over its practices.”

A Tripoli military official, Abdulbaset Marwan, intervened in the dispute, siding with Sarraj and accusing Maiteeq and other members of the GNA Presidential Council of working for local and foreign powers seeking to topple the GNA chief.

Local media reported that GNA military intelligence had warned Sarraj of the danger of such rallies. They explained that they could be exploited by rivals and foreign intelligence to introduce change that military operations – a reference to foreign backers of Libyan National Army, commander Khalifa Haftar – could not.

The military intelligence urged Sarraj to act immediately and thwart the plots that are aimed at taking advantage of the people’s anger against the GNA’s failure to address their daily woes.

On the ground, Turkey has continued to send weapons and mercenaries to GNA forces that are continuing to reinforce their positions near Sirte city, some 450 kilometers east of Tripoli.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that some 300 fighters have been flown in by Ankara to Libya, taking to 17,300 the number of Syrian mercenaries to have landed in the North African country. These figures include 350 children under the age of 18, said the rights monitor.

Politically, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Libya in a telephone call with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. A State Department Statement said they discussed regional issues, including the importance of supporting a UN-brokered ceasefire in Libya through political and economic talks.

Egypt and Greece had on Thursday signed an agreement designating an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean between the two countries, an area containing promising oil and gas reserves.

In Greece, diplomats said the deal effectively nullified an accord between Turkey and the GNA.

Last year, those two parties agreed to maritime boundaries in a deal Egypt and Greece decried as illegal and a violation of international law. Greece maintains it infringed on its continental shelf and specifically that off the island of Crete.

Despite Thursday’s agreement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that Ankara will forge ahead with its deals with the GNA. He dismissed the Egyptian-Greek agreement, saying there was no need for talks with sides that “have no territorial rights in the area.”

The GNA on Friday said it “will not allow any party to violate its maritime rights.”

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