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Humanity and responsibility are needed in the fight for Tripoli

March 23, 2020 at 10:51 am

People gather at The Martyrs’ Square to celebrate the 9th anniversary of Libyans’ 17 February Revolution in Tripoli, Libya on 17 February 2020. [Hazem Turkia – Anadolu Agency]

The Libyan capital Tripoli has been subjected to intense and random bombing for weeks and the victims are mainly civilians. The latest of these tragedies was the loss of the girls of the Raqi’i family in a Haftar militia attack on the capital’s Ain Zara neighbourhood. Furthermore, there are ongoing attempts to breach the defence of the Wefaq forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA). The international community, meanwhile, is doing nothing.

This criminal aggression is continuing even in the face of a threatened coronavirus outbreak and the fact that Libya does not have the resources to tackle the spread of the pandemic. The international community’s ceasefire plan has not condemned the ongoing aggression. The virus crisis in Europe and the US is no excuse for this; an explicit statement condemning the aggression and taking strict measures against the aggressors will not affect any government’s ability to fight Covid-19.

We have no hope in Haftar or his extremist supporters. Their political and military conduct has gone beyond the limits of what is reasonable and acceptable; their inhumanity has plumbed new depths by continuing to spread terror and kill innocent people, mainly children. This reveals a hopeless, sick mind that favours destruction over construction.

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Those who try to justify the aggression against Tripoli despite the pandemic and slaughter of civilians should stop. That’s what decent people do at such times; instead, they should join the efforts to confront the imminent danger that does not differentiate between North, East, South or West. There are many examples in history of enemies burying the hatchet and working together in times of calamities.

General Khalifa Haftar taking over Libya - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

General Khalifa Haftar taking over Libya – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The international community’s procrastination in dealing with the escalation looks like complicity; indeed, it is interpreted by many of those rejecting the aggression on the capital as systematic collusion, and the domination of a military answer over a political agreement. Statements by international organisations and Western officials that the crisis cannot be solved by arms do not reflect the reality on the ground.

We cannot simply blame anti-war public opinion for choosing to interpret the situation in this way. Nor for being convinced that the majority of international parties are involved in the conspiracy against the GNA and the democratic path and are working very hard behind the scenes to give renegade General Khalifa Haftar one chance after another to achieve his goals through force of arms.

Silence about his militias’ aggression, which has taken a terrible toll in the bombing of Tripoli, cannot be explained away by being busy with the virus. Haftar was targeting and killing innocent civilians before the outbreak of Covid-19 and the international community did nothing about his crimes. He continues to shed innocent blood while the international mission and others simply call for the conflicting parties to stop the escalation and prepare to face the pandemic.

READ: Is France changing its position on Libya and starting to support Haftar? 

This situation cannot be dealt with through complaining or merely exposing the details of Haftar’s attacks. Such a response is not effective. The only option today is to respond firmly to Haftar’s attacks and violations.

The GNA and its loyal forces are obliged by law, the Shari’ah and reason to use all available resources to strike Haftar’s militias and pursue his militants until the capital of Libya is secure and its inhabitants are safe from his bombing. The government cooperated with Turkey and succeeded in neutralising Haftar’s air force after it had dominated Tripoli’s skies for several months. It can also neutralise his artillery through a broad military operation that ends by pushing his ground forces back a safe distance.

This is the least of the responsibilities entrusted to the government. If it fails in this respect, then it disqualifies itself from being the government during the current phase. A further delay in securing the capital and its inhabitants from Haftar’s forces and their indiscriminate bombing will provide clear evidence that it is incompetent at what is a very dangerous stage of the war against Tripoli. Humanity and responsibility are needed on both sides in the struggle for Libya’s future.

Translated from Arabi21, 21 March 2020

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.