The Address | Benghazi – Libya
MECCA – Arab heads of state gathered Thursday evening for the start of a trio of high-level summits in Islam’s holiest city of Mecca as Saudi Arabia attempts to present a unified regional stance in response to a spike in tensions with Iran.
Notably, head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarraj, decided not to attend the Arab League summit. His government initially said it will be represented by Libya’s Arab League ambassador Saleh Al-Shamakhi before changing its course and sending its Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala.
The Arab region is witnessing a critical time amid fears of military confrontation between the United States and Iran. This comes following Iran’s most recent destabilizing activities, including the sabotage of Saudi oil tankers off the UAE coast, a rocket strike near the US Embassy in Baghdad, and a coordinated drone attack on Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi militia.
Al-Sarraj’s decision to skip the summits, at such critical time where the Arab consensus is needed most, is viewed as the result of the influence by one of his allies; the Muslim Brotherhood.
The High Council of State, chaired by prominent member of the Brotherhood Khaled Al-Mishri, has called on Al-Sarraj’s government to boycott the Arab League summit over the Arab nations’ support for the military operation of the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Tripoli.
Al-Sarraj has formed an alliance with Libyan Islamist groups like the Brotherhood in order to push back against the LNA which launched that operation last month to liberate the capital from such groups.
Late April, a ship of an Iranian company sanctioned by the United States arrived in the city of Misurata which has become the stronghold of Libyan Islamist groups.
“Shahr E Kord” is owned by an Iranian state-owned maritime transport company which is identified as one of the main subcontractors of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Defense Ministry and its main special service – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
According to Bulgarian news website BIVOL, the ship was carrying weapons and ammunition in coordination with Qatar.
“According to our sources, the Iranians, as allies of Qatar, which is active in Libya, are sending military assistance in the form of weapons and ammunition to Misrata so that the port can withstand the attacks.” BIVOL reported.
Faced with international criticism, Al-Sarraj’s government acknowledged the ship’s arrival and promised an investigation, the findings of which is yet to be revealed.
The Muslim Brotherhood has long enjoyed the support of rogue countries in the region. Although the Brotherhood’s most advocate supporters have been Qatar and Turkey, yet it also had been supported by Iran. The Palestinian terror group Hamas is an example of the Iran-Muslim Brotherhood relationship.
Furthermore, the Brotherhood’s traditional supporter Qatar has deepened its ties with Iran in a retaliatory move after major Arab countries decided to boycott the Gulf country over its support for terrorism.