Forces of the retired General Khalifa Haftar moved units to the west of Libya, claiming: “We want Tripoli for dignity,” which pushed the Government of National Accord to be vigilant. This move coincides with the arrival of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the capital Tripoli and the preparation for a national dialogue.
The Information Office of Eastern Libya forces led by Haftar said on Wednesday that orders were issued to troops to move to the west of the country to fight the remaining “terrorist groups.” A spokesman for the forces of Haftar, Ahmed Al-Mesmari, said: “We do not want Tripoli for a post, power, or money. We want Tripoli for dignity. We want Tripoli for the prestige of this country.”
Pages on the networking sites belonging to Haftar forces also published pictures of military convoys in an unknown area.
The Government of National Accord in Tripoli, an internationally recognised government, announced the general alert for all military and security forces after the movement of Haftar forces.
Residents of the oil town of Ras Lanuf (East) said that they saw tanks and heavy-armed vehicles heading west.
In the middle of last month, Haftar forces moved into the southern gate of the city of Sirte (central), prompting the Sirte Protection Force (most of its militants from Misurata of the National Accord Government in Tripoli) to declare the state of alert and emergency and call up all its reserve units.
The escalation coincided with the preparation of the UN mission in Libya to hold a national forum in the city of Ghadames (south-west) to come up with proposals to resolve the political, security, and economic crisis, and prepare for elections. It also came after the forces of the Government of National Accord entered to Al-Watiya air base west of Tripoli, and controlled it without a fight with the help of Haftar supporters.
Guterres arrived in Tripoli on a two-day visit during which he will meet with the Chairman of the Presidential Council Fayez al-Sarraj, Chairman of the High Council of State Khalid Al-Mashri and some officials in the National Accord Government. He is also expected to visit the eastern city of Benghazi to meet Haftar.
In February, Haftar forces seized control of the southern region, about a month after the launching of an operation against armed groups, and controlled El Sharara oil field (the country’s largest oil field).
At the end of the same month, the United Nations announced a new agreement in Abu Dhabi between Al-Sarraj and Haftar, aimed at unifying institutions and holding elections before the end of the current year.