Haftar’s spokesperson accuses Libya’s Presidency Council of planning attack on oil ports with Al-Qaeda leaders

Ahmed Al-Mismari, the spokesperson of Haftar’s forces, claimed that some members of the UN-backed Presidency Council and High Council of State held secret meetings with leaders of Al-Qaeda to mastermind the attack on the oil crescent region by Benghazi Defense Brigades, according to Libya Observer.

In an extraordinary press conference, Al-Mismari said the meetings were held in Tripoli and Misrata and attended by President of High Council of State Abdul-Rahman Al-Swaihli, some members from the Presidency Council and some leaders of Al-Qaeda.

He said, “This is a coalition of all terrorist groups in western Libya against the Libyan National Army in the east.” He also noted that their aim is political opportunism.

Al-Mismari also claimed that Al-Qaeda are competing for the control of Tripoli and oil ports to have more influence on the ground.

Moreover, Al-Mismari has previously accused Qatar and Turkey of supplying advanced military equipment to Benghazi Defense Brigades ahead of their military operation in oil ports.

In the same context, media outlets of Dignity Operation started a campaign to counter the march of BDB toward Benghazi shortly after Benghazi Defense Brigades BDB controlled Sidra and Ras Lanuf oil ports, in addition to Bin Jawad and Nofaliya towns.

As a result,  pro-Haftar media outlets started spreading rumors against the BDB.

TV presenter Mohammed Emtalel claimed on Libya News Channel that the Libyan National Army (LNA)had retaken Ras Lanuf and Sidra oil ports. He said that the “army”, Khalifa Haftar’s militia groups, are advancing in Bin Jawad and Nofaliya towns to expel the terrorist groups.

Furthermore, Emtalel went on his claims and said that BDB commander Brig. Mustafa Al-Shirksi was wounded in clashes and that Khalifa Haftar’s ally in south Libya Mohammed Bin Nail was besieging Jufra Airbase.

Accordingly, Emtalel’s rumors of retaking Ras Lanuf were quickly spread to many news outlets affiliated with Dignity Operation.

Moreover, Dignity Operation media outlets have accused Benghazi Defense Brigades of being members of Al-Qaeda group to gain support of international community, although BDB has for several times denied the accusations of being Al-Qaeda or have any links to other terrorist groups.

Brig. Mustafa Al-Shirksi, BDB commander, has made it clear that his brigades have no links to any group in or outside Libya.

“Benghazi Defense Brigades are backed by Defense Minister of Presidency Council Al-Mihdi Al-Baraghati and PC member Mohammed Amari, in addition to several brigades from Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos Operation, “as reported by Libya Observer.

In addition, Dignity Operation media outlets also claimed that Al-Qaeda group wants to occupy oil ports and east Libya region.

It is worth to mention that Benghazi Defense Brigades include Benghazi residents who were forcibly driven out of their city.

They said the aim of their battle is to allow the city’s internally displaced person (IDPs) to return back safely.

In fact, Dignity Operation and its media outlets have always been accusing Haftar’s political opponents of being members of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood to gain support from the international community.

In addition, Haftar has also been trying to portray himself as a bulwark against extremism and terrorism in Libya .

However, while forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) were busy battling to eradicate ISIS in Sirte, Gen.Haftar militias were waging war against his political enemies in Derna and Benghazi, under the banner of war on terrorism.

In May 2016, Haftar launched Operation Volcano in Derna, which has been viewed as an extension of Operation Dignity, to allegedly liberate the city from terrorism and Islamist control.

In May 2014, Operation Dignity was launched by Haftar’s militia to eradicate Islamists from Libya, who he considers to be terrorists and his political enemies.

It is worth to mention that Derna’s Shura Council has openly opposed Haftar, and although they were able to drive out ISIS from the city without his help in April 2016, he attacked them.

One of the reasons why Haftar has launched a war against the eastern city, despite the fact that the Derna Shura Council has maintained that they are not affiliated with any terrorist group, was because Haftar aimed at that time to establish full control in eastern Libya as political leverage.

Haftar’s battles were mainly to consolidate his power and influence in the east, which he can use to spread his power all over Libya and portray himself as the only solution for Libya’s stability and union.