The Address | Benghazi – Libya
The Address conducted an interview with the Spokesman of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Brigader General Ahmad al-Mismari, where he disclosed some important information regarding the military and political situation in the country.
The Address: Brigadier General, tell us about the details of the military operation that took place in al-Sidada area for protecting the oil crescent from the terrorist forces that were mobilizing to launch an attack on it?
Al-Mismari: After receiving information from the reconnaissance forces and the military intelligence reports that there was a mobilization of terrorist groups in the area of al-Sadada, specifically in its castle, the same place of the previous grouping at the agricultural project near the Bungaim area, LNA General Command saw that this time it should not defend within the Oil Crescent area, so it tasked infantry units to attack and surprise the enemy in the places of its concentrations. Our military units carried out the task successfully, clearing the area from Jufra to Bungaim and the agricultural valley project at Zamzam. LNA units secured these areas and reached the main centers of the enemy groups concentrations at al-Sidada, driving them out of it and seizing several vehicles that exceeded 26, including 10 loaded with ammunition, in addition to killing and wounding a large number of them.
The Address: Alliances in each attack launched on the Oil Crescent varied and changed. Is there information on the affiliations of the forces gathered in al-Sidada area and their backgrounds?
Al-Mismari: First, allow me to elaborate on this issue because this is the most important aspect to be clarified. Who are we fighting in this region? It is the terrorist organization of al-Qaeda in all its manifestations, and Jidhran who leads these groups is a terrorist, and who supported Jidhran in the previous attack in the month of Ramadan was Abdelhakim Belhadj, with eight million euros from a bank in Malta to al-Jumhuria Bank in Misurata, in addition to three million euros that were transferred from Qatar to Jidhran through Ali al-Sallabi. Therefor, we are now facing the heads of al-Qaeda. They allied with another wing belonging to al-Qaeda, the wing of the escapees from Benghazi, composed of Ansar al-Sharia and Libya Shield terrorist group. The third party in this equation is IS group led by Abdel Moneim Hasnawi, who represents IS, not al-Qaeda. They are mercenaries bought with money, Chadian terrorist gangs, of whom around 1,200 members participated in the Battle of the Oil Crescent last Ramadan.
The Address: The entry of LNA into areas considered geographically in western Libya caused panic among the media of the terrorist groups which spread out propaganda that LNA was targeting the city of Misurata by these operations. What is your comment?
Al-Mismari: We are fighting terrorist groups supported by international terrorist TV channels such as al-Jazeera and supported by countries such as Turkey, where there are about 5 terrorist channels interested in the Libyan affairs, and they have an operations room in Istanbul managed by large funds that tried directly to spread out propaganda to affect the Libyan public opinion, especially in Misurata, that LNA was targetting the city of Misurata, and this is contrary to the fact. We have martyrs from the tribes of Misurata and we have cooperation with people in Misurata, not only in the army, but even in security, and they arrested individuals wanted by us and by the Libyans; most recently Moussa Sobhi, who was arrested a few days ago. Therefore, these channels and terrorist groups tried to inflame public opinion against LNA because it targets them. We will not enter any city except with the consent of its inhabitants, and we have previous lessons in this regard, such as Benghazi, Derna, Jufra, Waddan, Sokina, Zalla, al-Fuqaha and the Oil Crescent, Which if their inhabitants did not stand with us, and if we would not have had a great social coordination with their people before breaking into them, we would not have entered them. Therefore, if we want to enter Misurata, we would enter it with its army, with its officers, and soldiers. If Misurata is exposed to a terrorist threat,it will find us supporting it, but now there is no need for LNA to enter Misurata.
The Address: What is the latest military developments in Derna?
Al-Mismari: What is happening now in Derna is only security operations and not military military operations. in Derna, the war ended after 33 days from its beginning and now there is only the old city, and we are benefiting from what is happening where it became areas of terrorists gathering, even their sleeper cells.
The Address: Most of the Libyans were happy watching scenes from inside the army training centers, but they are looking for details on the number of centers, the number of trainees, elisted, etc.
Al-Mismari: We have almost reached the 8th batch, which will be graduating now from the army training centers. At the end of this month, we will surprise the Libyans by graduating soldiers at a very high level of training. This is the general training, not the specialized training. LNA training centers will graduate about 2,600 soldiers, namely from the training centers of Abyar, Marj al-Bayda, Tobruk, Suluq, Benghazi. More training centers will be established in the south-west and there is a training center that was equipped in the western region. They exceeded ten training centers and this is enough for the Libyan Army.
How is the General Command of LNA following on the state of political division that has burdened Libyan society at all levels?
We are following on this matter, and we were outside the circle of political talks at the beginning; we did not participate in them. The Libyan parliament was participating as representative of us because we legally follow the parliament. However, unfortunately, we found out that the political agreement signed in Skhirat targeted the army and its leadership through Article 8 and security annexes.
That made us engage in the political talks after several international appeals, and we are going with the wishes of the Libyan people. The people want elections and we welcomed the all-inclusive conference, after which elections will be held in March. If it is not done on time, we will have another opinion. We welcomed the referendum process on the constitution, but for one time. If it is not passed, the constitutional process must be postponed until after elections.
It is said that there is a close consensus between the General Command of LNA, the Presidential Council and the State Council. Is this true?
First we do not recognize the State Council because it consists of terrorist elements and we refuse to deal with al-Sarraj as president of Libya. He is only a head of a temporary presidential council composed of nine people. We sat with al-Sarraj more than once and the point of disagreement with him was about the position of the supreme commander of the Libyan army. We insist that it be granted to a president elected and he wants it to be given to him. This status is the right of the Head of the House of Representatives, and we insist on this point, why? Because when a president is elected, the people can hold him accountable because they had given him the legitimacy, but who can hold the president accountable, if he is given legitimacy from the International Community.