National armies protect the capitals of their country, they do not storm them, said Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, the country’s prime minister and head of its National Unity Government, on Tuesday, Anadolu Agency reported.
At a celebration marking the 81st anniversary of the Libyan army, the premier made unmistakable reference to a failed April 2019 attack on the capital Tripoli by the militia of renegade Gen. Khalifa Haftar.
“Capitals are precious pearls, and armies were founded to protect them, not to storm them, terrorize their people, and destroy their property, and no national army can terrorize its people and cities for any reason,” said Dbeibeh, according to state TV Al-Watania.
On June 4, 2020, the Libyan army announced the liberation of Tripoli from Haftar’s militia, following an offensive that left countless civilians dead and wounded, along with extensive material damage and destruction.
The withdrawal of Haftar’s militias from other areas of the country was followed by the discovery of many mass graves.
“The army’s job is to protect our land, sea, and air borders” without prejudice,” Dbeibeh said, adding that “the Libyan army was born to protect peace,” not issue threats.
He stressed that “he who takes war as a means lacks far-sightedness as he sacrifices everyone for the sake of flimsy arrogance.”
In the wake of the 2011 death of strongman leader Muammar Gaddafi, the oil-rich country suffered through years of armed conflict.
With the support of Arab and Western countries, mercenaries, and foreign fighters, Haftar’s militia fought the former internationally recognized Government of National Accord, which enjoyed Turkish support.
“The prestigious army institution cannot be affiliated with a person, whatever his capacity, but rather he is our army and the protector of our protection,” Dbeibeh asserted.
On Monday, Haftar said that his militia would not be subordinate to the current authority, and would only deal with “an authority directly elected by the people.”
This year Libya has witnessed a political breakthrough under UN auspices. On March 16, an elected transitional authority, made up of a unity government and a presidential council, assumed their duties to lead the country through a transitional phase to parliamentary and presidential elections slated for Dec. 24.
But Haftar is still flouting the legitimate government and leads an armed militia that controls many areas, and calls himself the “commander-in-chief of the Libyan Armed Forces,” challenging the Presidential Council’s authority.