Senior commander seeks to keep Tripoli clear of conflict

The commander of the western coast military zone and former Defense Minister, Salah Al-Deen Al-Namroush

The commander of the western coast military zone and former Defense Minister, Salah Al-Deen Al-Namroush, has expects clashes, similar to recent Tripoli clashes, to ensue as Khalifa Haftar and Aqila Saleh pressure Fathi Bashagha who more than once has tried to enter Tripoli and is now working to create chaos to blame it on Dbeibah government.

Al-Namroush told French magazine, Jeune Afrique, that the unity government is too weak to intervene and that Brigade 444 controlled the situation after Tripoli clashes, adding that since Dbeibah took power, no improvement in security has happened.

Al-Namroush confirmed that he did not stop Bashagha’s convoy, but rather stopped 100 cars 17 km from Tripoli and they are affiliated with armed groups that came to support Bashagha. He said clashes actually took place without injuries, adding that the convoy was hindered on the way because the elements were armed.

He also denied that Libya was in danger of descending into a civil war again, saying that Bashagha was very impulsive and when they were in the same government (the government of Fayez Al-Sarraj), he changed his position sometimes within five minutes, pointing out that Bashagha at that time tried to oust the prime minister – Al-Sarraj – and was suspended for a month.

“Osama Juwaili mobilized forces from Zintan and mercenaries from south of the desert in the town of Aziziyah, 47 km from Tripoli. They sent envoys asking him to step down, but he refused and replied that Dbeibah should be removed by force. He said that he would not be able to enter because the armed forces are under his command.

Al -Namroush said that he does not support neither Dbeibah nor Bashagha, adding that his main goal is to keep Tripoli away from the clashes, and said that he doesn’t want war, but rather organizing elections, which he said is still very complicated at the present time. He added that he would support the appointment of a government of officials who have not been in power since 2011, stressing that Dbeibah and Bashagha should make way for the new government.

“Dbeibah is less aggressive than Bashagha,  but he is corrupt and has never invested in security.” Al-Namroush said, criticizing him for supporting the militias more than the army. He also said that the House of Representatives and the High Council of State  can reach an agreement and form a new government, If not, the Presidential Council could appoint a new prime minister.

When asked about the possibility of Haftar’s presence in the new government, Al-Namroush confirmed that the presence of a war criminal can’t be accepted, and that he would have accepted this before April 4, 2019, adding that everyone should be represented in the unity government, including Haftar’s supporters from the east, but they have to agree so that no one tries to gain complete control.

Speaking about the extent of the crimes committed by the Russian Wagner mercenaries, Al -Namroush said that almost every week, there are injured women and children in southern Tripoli as they return to their homes without knowing that there are mines planted inside, indicating that 14 soldiers have lost their legs or hands. He added that mine clearance will be very exhausting because the area is vast.

Al-Namroush said that he “does not understand how France and Russia can be on the same side with Khalifa Haftar,” pointing out that France supported Haftar during the last war (2019-2020) 100% with weapons and intelligence, expressing his hope that Paris would change its position because the previous one was frustrating to him.

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