“Between Bashagha and Dabaiba a personal dispute, a third government will lead Libya to elections.” Conversation with Tuhami Al-Jatlawi

By Vanessa Tomassini.

“So far, there is no communication and there is no agreement between the two governments. The only solution for Libya at present time is the exit of the government of Dbeiba, which has corrupted the country, wasted Libyan funds and agreed to sell Libyan soil. After that comes the exit of the government of Fathi Bashagha, which does not yet hold any power. Fathi Bashagha has only internal power, as an international authority, he is not internationally recognized. The solution is the exit of both”. Tuhami Al-Jatlawi, member of the Counter Terrorism Force (CTF) and coordinator of international relations, from Misurata, tell us in this exclusive interview.

Thank you, Mr Jatlawi for this meeting. What do you think about the deal between Khaled Meshri and Agila Salah recently announced in Morocco?

“This is an interests’ agreement to ensure the continuation of the House of Representatives and the High Council of the State, to prolong the period of ruling of the two chambers. It was not based on the interests of the State, but rather to serve the personal interests and guarantee the survival of Khaled El-Meshri and Ageela Saleh. It was not an agreement seeking to build a state but a deal that helps them also to be part of a new government. We, as leaders and politicians, have no involvement in the conflict. We support anything that would be in Libya’s interest and work to build a State. However, I don’t think the agreement in Morocco will work. I don’t believe there is a saying in the matter other than that of the United Nations and the Mission see no point in the agreement. There could be possible that a third Government will be appointed by the Mission but this agreement in particular does not mean anything”.

What do you think about unifying the two governments?

“No, this is not possible. The unification of the government of Bashaga and the government of Dbeiba is a very difficult matter and even impossible because both are looking for the presidency. It is a personal hostility rather than political between Bashaga and Dbaiba. I am very close to both of them, I consider them my friends one will accept nor tolerate the other. The solution is the exit of the two from power and the formation of a third government and the third option on which there is discussion is Mohamed El-Muntasser. I have just returned from my meetings in Istanbul, this name is circulating and agreed upon by all parties, East South or West, it is a non-controversial figure of Libya, a centrist figure, a man with a history of politics whose family is also experienced in. At the same time, neither Dabaiba nor Bashagha oppose his appointment”.

What is Fathi Bashaga plan for the future?

“Fathi Bashagha is ready to hand over power to whoever is appointed or selected by the UN Mission and that is what he said personally last week, that he was willing to hand over power to anyone except Abdul Hamid Dbeiba. His last condition is that also Abdul Hamid Dbeiba hand over power. That proves the personal nature rather than political of the hostility”.

The United Nations spoke about military movements in Libya, is there a possibility for another war?

“As for the recent move by the Counter-Terrorism Force which I am one of its associates and coordinator of international relations, it has not moved to create a war but with its 300-armed mechanisms and about 1,000 troops, they have moved to prove to everyone that the Counter-Terrorism Force exists to protect Libyan territory and do not intend any conflict. As for the possibility of a war, yes, there is. The war will be led by Osama al-Juwaily, his followers and allies to take Tripoli and impose themselves in the western region. If Haftar’s military forces support al-Juwaily, Misrata will be involved also along with the Counter-Terrorism Force, the 166 Brigade and the rest of the battalions will participate to repel Haftar’s aggression. But if Osama al-Juwaily will lead a war by himself for power over Tripoli, Misrata will not take part on it. I visited Khalifa Haftar two weeks ago and he said that there is no intention of a war and he will not lead any offensive in the western region. However, I expect that there will be a war led by Osama al-Juwaily and supported by Khalifa Haftar from the eastern region for the entry of the Karama forces into the western region. This is very foreseeable and very close if a political solution is not reached quickly”.

How’s the relationship between Bashaga and Haftar?

“Their relationship is now bad. It was initially a close and politically good relationship, one of interest not about building a state. Khalifa Haftar wished Fathi Bashagha to be the head of government to ensure that his allies entered Tripoli, but now that Bashaga failed, he no longer matters for Haftar. Their meetings became more and more not possible. For example, when Fathi Bashagha wanted to visit Haftar, he refused to meet him. The Government of Bashaga is a weak government in the eastern region and is not internationally recognized”.

So, the general command does not support Bashagha?

“Previously, fifteen days ago, the general command supported Bashagha, but currently Bashaga is not internationally recognized and did not help it to get Tripoli which is the main reason for their support of Fathi Bashaga but he failed to do so. The General Command is now looking for an alternative to Fathi and Abdel Hamid, someone who will serve the General Command interests”.

Is there any possibility of a new oil blockage in the south?

“I don’t think so, and even if oil production is stopped, it will be for days only because oil is out of Libyans’ hand. Everyone knows that the production and export of oil is not controlled by Libyans. It is controlled by outside countries that can order a new blockade. Ultimately, if the militias shut down the production of oil in an hour, they will restart it”.

How is the situation in Misrata? Who supports Bashaga there?

“Bashaga indeed has military support because Abdul Hamid Dbeiba actually created many enemies to himself. Bashaga has his supporting forces in Misrata, but military forces are not the solution in the crisis between Bashaga and Dbeiba because the city’s armed groups will not fight each other. For instance, in his last attempt to enter Tripoli, Fathi Bashagha had stopped at Zlitan and went back, which was not caused by fear. However, when they were at a point to get in a conflict, they found that they were all from Misrata, so the two dropped their weapons. Misrata groups will not fight each other for the benefit of one man. This is very unlikely, to fight a second city is possible, but to fight each other is impossible. Today, there are large groups supporting Fathi Bashagha who previously were with Dbeiba”.

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