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Libyan activist: UAE pressured Saudi Arabia into handing revolutionists performing pilgrimage over to Haftar

UN Special Envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame holds a joint press conference with Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano (not seen) following their meeting at the Farnesina Foreign Ministry headquarters in Rome, Italy on 8 August, 2017 [Riccardo de Luca/Anadolu Agency]
UN Special Envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame holds a joint press conference with Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano (not seen) following their meeting at the Farnesina Foreign Ministry headquarters in Rome, Italy on 8 August, 2017 [Riccardo de Luca/Anadolu Agency]

A leader of Zawiya rebels in the west of Libyan capital Tripoli, Hussein Zaait, accused the Saudi authorities of being involved in mediation to hand over the Libyan rebels to the leader of Operation Dignity Battle under pressure from the UAE and stressed that they had no previous problem with the Saudi authorities.

On Wednesday, the Libyan TV channel Al-Nabaa reported Zaait’s “Intention to raise an international case against the Saudi authorities about the harassment and arrest of his comrades through an international lawyer.”

Zaait said that he and his brother Hasan took refuge in the Libyan consulate in Jeddah after the Saudi authorities arrested two revolutionary leaders during their performance of Umrah last year.

Regarding the role of the Libyan authorities at the beginning, Zaait confirmed that the Libyan officials contacted him during his stay in the consulate in Jeddah.

Hussein Zaait argued that he had been in the Libyan consulate in Jeddah for eight months before he managed to escape with the help of Saudi parties to arrive in Libya.

Last Ramadan, the Saudi authorities arrested Libyan pilgrims, including officers working within the internationally recognized Government of National Accord, and handed them over to the Government of Eastern Libya, where Haftar is the most influential member.

Read: Haftar’s forces head to Derna after ‘liberating’ Benghazi

Operation Dignity Battle, which is led by retired Libyan Major General Khalifa Haftar and backed by Egypt and the UAE, started on 16 May, 2014 by attacking a number of the headquarters of some Islamic groups in Benghazi, including those responsible for the killing of the US ambassador in 2012.

Libya has been suffering from a political and security instability, where several armed entities have been fighting since a popular revolt that overthrew Gaddafi in 2011.

Two governments are fighting for legitimacy in Libya; one of which is the internationally recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli (west) and the Interim Government in the eastern city of Al Bayda’, which is affiliated to, like Haftar’s forces, the House of Representatives.

The UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, seeks to secure a Libyan reconciliation that enables Libyans to develop a constitution and move towards legislative and presidential elections; a project that faces great difficulties.

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