By Souad Sbai
General Haftar, a strong man from easter Libya, announced through the organs of the LNA, the Libyan Armed Forces, that he will not participate in the Conference on Libya due to unwelcome people sitting at the table; referring, in particular, to the “presence of Qatari representatives and a group linked to Al Qaeda.”
Rumors about General’s participation in Palermo were spread after “La Stampa” published an article reporting Haftar’s participation in the conference thanks to the persuasion exercised by General Alberto Maneti (director of AISE, Italian foreign intelligence service, in pre-retirement) who traveled to Russia a few days ago to attend the meeting that took place between Haftar and the Russian Minister of Defense, Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu.
There will be no one from the east wing of the country in Palermo where other delegations are beginning to arrive. Haftar seems to have been very clear about his participation in the tables where Qatar plays. Qatar is under international suspicion due to the role it plays in supporting and financing Islamist terrorism, along with Turkey, a country that supports Qatar “with weapons and money, as well as with political and media support.”
It is too much for the Libyan leader who sees his “Western” counterpart Fayez al-Sarraj, not only trying to close power agreements thanks to the support of foreign nations without any specific authority on Libyan territory, but also traveling to Erdogan’s Turkey, on the occasion of a meeting that was also attended by the Turkish Minister of Defense, Hulusi Akar and the President of the Libyan High State Council, Khaled al-Meshri. Haftar does not sit down at the table with those who are supported and financed by the Muslim Brotherhood, officially declared a terrorist organization practically by the Middle East and North Africa, with the exception of the country of Al Thani, which welcomed the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and gave them hospitality and the possibility of organizing and planning.
Among other things, we are talking about the use of Turkish military forces in Libya to carry out cooperation activities and to train the Libyan armed forces. On the other hand, the General’s discontent with Qatar is clear.
In December last year the General’s spokesman openly accused Qatar of financing the pockets of Al Qaeda to recruit and reorganize its forces in Libyan territory.
Evidence was presented during a press conference demonstrating the relationship between some Qatari leaders and the terrorist group; a relationship found out thanks to telephone taps recorded by the army security services led by Haftar.
For example, Colonel Salem Ali Jarboui, Qatari military attaché in the Maghreb countries, in June 2017 allegedly transferred 8 billion dollars from the Tunisian branch of the Qatar National Bank to the Banque de l’Habitat, also in the same North African country.
The sums transferred were made available to former criminals who were linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, with the aim of supporting the resistance against Haftar and organizing attacks such as the one that took place in the pipeline that joins Al Zanqut with the Port of Al Sidra in the area of the Oil Red Crescent. That attack caused a collapse in production of about 100 thousand barrels of oil per day.
It is also essential to take into account the presence of Egypt, a country that in addition to sharing the border with Libya, also shares its military efforts against the passage of terrorists through the Sinai desert, where those who have fled from Raqqa and the other former strongholds of the Islamic State were reorganized into units with different dimensions and represent a constant and permanent threat to the governments of the area.
For several months, Al Sisi has been conducting negotiations to reunify the Libyan security forces, claiming that Haftar is the only man capable of pacifying Libya and establishing the political, social, security and order demands that come from Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. Its shore has always played a very active and operational role, fighting militarily against the terrorist attacks and threats carried out by former members of ISIS, who moved safely between the Turkish/Iraqi borders, to the greater glory of Erdogan who reiterated the Turkey’s willingness to contribute to the reconstruction of Libya.
Therefore, doubts about the success of this conference. Perhaps an unclear and not very transparent agenda; perhaps too many interests at stake with many countries (France in the first place) determined to maintain the oil wells and an economically strong presence but without an equally strong link of political-strategic agents at the base. Maybe we should have paid more attention to the guest list, which although it may seem institutional, it is clear that its members depend, more or less, on one of the parties involved and it provokes political bad moods that are difficult to handle even for specialists in this sort of agreements as we Italians are. An appointment that could be decisive for our energy future, practically crippled in terms of the protection of national strategic interests.
In fact, we are still waiting to see the Italian government appointing the new leaders of the Italian security services, that is, Italian secret services. We present ourselves in Palermo with the director of the AISE and with the director of the information system for the Italian security(Dis); both have resigned (end of the mandate, non-renewable). In short, we go to a war of spies without the leader of the spies; thus operating only the normal administration in accordance with the protocols of the last authority delegated by the President of the Council (Marco Minniti); a role that is on hold also for President Giuseppe Conte.
We find ourselves between two fires: the choise to support those who fight against terrorism in their own home, pointing out the objective that must be sanctioned (Qatar and Turkey), and the slowness to choose the key members of this Government, that should establish security standards and improve the defensive and strategic position of the country.
Al-Sarraj, before flying to Palermo, will travel to Paris to hold a meeting with his main supporter, President Emmanuel Macron, who – and now it is clear – wants to impose his mark on the French-speaking region of North Africa, reiterating an almost post-colonial possession. Al-Sarraj, in an interview with “France Press”, spoke about the rivalry between Rome and Paris, trying to push both towards a solution that we hope will not be satisfactory only for the “cousins” from beyond the Alps, used to always go “a little too much their own way” despite the sermons on European unity and common markets and movements … but only when it suits París.