Cairo: Military support by Qatar and Turkey to militias has hampered an ongoing campaign by Libyan forces to “liberate” the capital Tripoli, the country’s top lawmaker has said.
In April, forces of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar initiated a massive offensive to capture Tripoli from militias loyal to a weak UN-backed government headed by Fayez Al Serraj.
Head of the Libyan elected parliament, Aqila Saleh, blamed Qatari-Turkish military support to the Serraj-aligned militias for the delay in the city’s takeover.
“But this will not discourage the army from doing its duty towards the country’s security and stability,” Saleh told pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat in remarks published Monday.
Doha and Ankara are staunch backers of militias in strife-plagued Libya.
“Tripoli is a populous city. War on terrorism there is not a regulated one or even a street war. Instead, it is happening inside houses. Accordingly, the army has a tight move plan to protect civilians there,” Saleh added.
He defended Haftar’s campaign for Tripoli as part of war on terrorism.
“Does it make sense for the Libyan army to remain handcuffed and unable to tackle the militias tampering with the country and the people?”
Saleh ruled out a new meeting between Libya’s leading rivals.
“Concurrence and talks between Haftar and Al Serraj are impossible, especially after Libyans were killed and the head of the Presidency Council [Al Serraj] has been accused of this,” Saleh said.
In February, Haftar and Al Serraj met in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi where they agreed on the necessity of holding long-delayed elections as part of a UN-sponsored peace process.
Libya has descended into anarchy since a 2011 armed revolt that toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.