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10SEPTEMBER2014 LIBYAN PRIME MINISTER-FOR NEWS Abdullah Al Thini, Prime Minister of Libya, accompanied by Dr. Aref Ali Neyed, Ambassador of Libya to UAE are seen arrive for their press meet at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday evening. Photo: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News (story: Samir) Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: Libya’s prime minister has offered Islamist militants controlling the west of the country pardons for laying down their weapons, indicating that an operation will be launched that will liberate the capital “within weeks”.

“Tripoli will be liberated within the next weeks by its young people... The Libyan youth will liberate their nation,” Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah Al Thinni told Gulf News here on Wednesday.

The prime minister however declined to elaborate on the military plans to rid the Libyan capital of Islamist militias, but said that his country rejects any foreign military intervention.

He called upon militants to lay down their weapons and said: “Those who do that and return to their homes will be pardoned”.

Security analysts say the way out of the security crisis in Libya will be tough.

“The fracturing of the country is solidifying between the Islamists and the federalists, although the latter is split. Unfortunately, the Islamists are going to have to be pushed back by force from taking key strategic locations to include ports and energy production facilities given that the federalists, in reality, are still pumping and shipping oil,” said Dr Theodore Karasik, Director of Research and Consultancy at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA).

Dr Karasik suggested the security crisis requires new mediation between the various sides that deals with the split among the federalists first with a focus on firmly boosting their security forces. “Then the Islamists need to be brought into the equation with a lot of arm twisting. This two-step effort needs a jump start by involving Libya’s neighbours and key Gulf states in order to cut the flow of support to the Islamists while empowering the federalists with a coordinated incentives and the insertion of private military security companies. If measures are not taken quickly, Libya will not be Iraq, it will be Somalia.”

Terrorism

On whether he supports the idea of Libya becoming part of the US strategy to fight terrorism, Al Thinni said terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon and must be fought in all its forms and manifestations.

Pro-government Libyan forces, already reeling from the fall of the capital, are fighting to prevent Islamist militants from seizing the eastern city of Benghazi and splitting the North African country into three warring parts.

Three weeks after losing Tripoli to a different militia, the army now faces an offensive in Libya’s second-largest city from the Islamists of Ansar Al Sharia, which has overrun special forces bases and is attacking Benghazi airport.

The Libyan Prime Minister also unequivocally dismissed reports that the Egypt and the UAE launched air strikes against Libya.

“The Islamists have abused this accusation to serve their own interests. The Libyan Dawn has committed far greater crimes including thefts, looting and destruction of homes including mine. There is no evidence and whoever has any evidence supporting the claim should come forward and present it,” Al Thinni said.

On whether he supports a military offensive on Libya, he said this issue is being discussed by the government and the parliament. We call on the international community to assist Libya.

Detention

Al Thinni confirmed that seven Libyans citizens had been detained in the UAE for violating the UAE’s laws. “Just as we do not accept the infringement upon our sovereignty, so we do not condone infringement upon other countries. We trust the UAE judiciary and trust that if they are innocent, they will be freed and if they are guilty, they will be given fair sentences”.

Al Thinni said the government is in complete control of the oil resources. The current rate of oil production is 750,000 bpd and is expected to reach one million bpd by October.