Hifter speaks to Sputnik about the latest developments in the Libyan arena


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The Libyan army is capable of ending the war in just two days, Libya's national army commander, Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, said on Tuesday (October 15th).

What is the timeline set for the liberation of Tripoli? And when do you expect to complete the battle? What has impeded the advance of the army during this period?

This is a war for the liberation of a capital of two million people, not a project for which we can set a specific timetable. A war against extremist terrorist groups and criminal militia has allowed it to accumulate huge amounts of weapons over the years and receive huge sums of money from the state treasury and from countries that support terrorism and employ thousands of mercenaries. We can end this war in a day or two by sweeping with heavy weapons from all axes, but it will destroy the city and cause heavy civilian casualties. We place the safety of citizens and the utilities of the city above all else, because the aim of these operations is to liberate the capital and not destroy it. Our aim is to rid our people in Tripoli of the oppression of the militias and not just to enter the capital at any cost. We are a regular army and our national duty is to defend and protect our people, and what we are doing is defending Tripoli, not attacking it, and we are never satisfied that we should cause harm to its inhabitants or facilities. Therefore, we were keen to lure these groups to the outskirts of the city, and we succeeded in this, and we inflicted heavy losses on them, and we will enter Tripoli, conquering God willing, to restore its prestige and status and its role as the capital of all Libyans, a capital of security and peace, and we will rid our people of the fragments of armed militias and terrorist groups. This is a promise made by the army to itself, and pay for lives and blood, and the army does not leave his promise.

After the completion of military operations will you apply for the presidential election?

The end of military operations does not mean that the climate will be immediately conducive to elections. There are many benefits that must be achieved in preparation for them and the permanent constitution. Elections cannot be held unless security is established and stability cannot be achieved. Security, stability and weapons cannot be achieved outside the authority of the state and the dormant terrorist cells are deployed in the country. The country will need to adjust things first, security, economic and social. The question of my candidacy for the presidency or not is not my current concern at all.

What do you think of Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam recently announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections? Do you have any contact with him? And where is he currently .. inside or outside Libya?

I am not aware of this. He is a Libyan citizen .. If he meets the legal conditions, it is natural that it is his right, and I do not put myself in the position of encouragement or opposition to anyone who sees himself in the competence and competence and apply for candidacy. This does not concern me from near or far. The Libyans are the decision-makers in the election of the next president, but the candidacy does not mean only the candidate himself. In any case, it is premature to talk about the presidential elections now as we fight a comprehensive liberation war. I do not know where he is currently, and there is no communication between us, and this does not of course mean any disagreement or enmity. Our enemies are the terrorists, and everyone who carries arms against the citizen, attacks the sanctity of the people, belittles their dignity, loots the wealth of Libyans and jeopardizes the safety of the country.

Are there international or local mediation efforts to communicate with the Presidential Council and resolve the crisis so that the fighting stops and the political process begins?

There is a misconception that the so-called Presidential Council can instruct terrorist and militia forces that the army is fighting to continue fighting, for example, a ceasefire. This is a big lie that has now been exposed locally and internationally. The fact is that the Council receives instructions from these groups, not the other way around, and its role is limited to providing money, weapons and mercenaries on the orders issued to him, which can only be implemented immediately, and none of the few remaining members of the Council, starting with their president, dares to reject the instructions issued by the Council from Those bands. The Presidential Council can only execute orders. This is a fact that no longer needs to be proved. Not to mention that the Council itself has more than one member belonging to terrorist organizations. Even statements that appear to be issued by the Presidential Council are in fact a paper prepared by those terrorist and militia organizations whose role is limited to their signature and declaration only. How can a council with such a level of subjugation and flatness make any settlement with it to resolve the Libyan crisis? These facts were revealed when the President of the Council was found to be unable to commit to any undertaking. Unfortunately, we have wasted precious time in dialogue with him in response to regional and international endeavors. Now there is no international or local mediation between us and the Council or its President. The reason is that the world has realized that the Council is my figure and its President is incapable of fulfilling its commitments to it. The man is simply overwhelmed by his helplessness. If he asked me for advice, my sincere advice to him would be to leave politics and mock positions and return to the art of decoration and design of doors and windows, because the presidency has its conditions. As it is said: God's mercy is a man who knew as much as himself and stood without him.

As for the beginning of the political process, we believe that there is no political solution to the crisis in the presence of extremist terrorist groups that do not believe in the state, and its method of atonement and beheading, and linked to an international terrorist octopus, and other militias dealing only with weapons, especially since they control the capital. The first step of any political solution begins with the elimination and disarmament of these groups, and this is what we are doing, then the Libyans can talk calmly and comfortably and inevitably reach a political solution in record time.

What do you plan to do in Tripoli after entering? Do you have a plan to heal the rift?

Libya's future is contingent on the liberation of Tripoli, and we reiterate that what we are doing is defending it and not attacking it as promoted in some political and media circles. Tripoli suffers an unprecedented security collapse, and its citizens suffer from the oppression of armed militias and successive attacks on their property, and live a harsh life due to the deterioration of the level of services, and the lack of basic elements of life such as financial liquidity in banks, electricity, fuel and drinking water. The whole country has also been affected by the deterioration of the situation in Tripoli as the capital of the country. All state institutions are under the control of militias and leaders of terrorist organizations, led by the Muslim Brotherhood. This includes the Central Bank of Libya, the National Oil, Passports and Telecommunications Corporation, and all the central sovereign institutions whose services are expanded at the national level. . The proliferation of weapons, militias and terrorist sleeper cells in the capital remains one of the most important issues requiring urgent radical treatment. These are all top priorities after entering Tripoli, and there are comprehensive security plans to control things. The issue of bridging the rift and other social issues that have arisen as a result of the conflict, Libyans are able to deal with it by law and social custom, and bypassing it in many ways when weapons in the hands of the state and terrorism is dead and buried in the ground.

Do you think that the international community is convinced of the reasons for this battle?

There are many countries directly affected by the events in Libya, especially neighboring countries and the regional ocean, and is primarily concerned with the issue of terrorism and illegal immigration, because they affect their national security, as well as the issue of oil and gas affect the world economy. The security situation in Libya directly affects the stability of the region and beyond, and all these countries concerned with the Libyan affairs have realized the importance of the role played by the National Army in combating terrorism and reducing illegal immigration, which liberated the ports and oil fields, which led to the high rate of oil production and export. . It is only natural that he has the support of the international community to complete its task of eliminating terrorism and promoting security and stability. Just as there are countries fighting terrorism such as Russia, America, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, for example, we find Turkey and Qatar support him with all their possibilities. There are other countries that do not support terrorism, but they are wary of the military operations we are leading, such as Britain and Germany, and this is due to their own estimates, perhaps because they believe that the military control may harm their interests and this is not true at all, or may see that military operations will aggravate things and this too incorrect. These operations are like surgery to remove the malignant tumor, without which the disease spreads and destroys the entire body. The picture is now clear to most of the world, and we are beginning to see a near-unified international position in support of what our armed forces are doing.

Members of the reconciliation government are officially welcomed in some countries of the region and the world and are treated as legitimate representatives of the Libyans. Does not this weaken your position, especially in light of the war? What steps are you making at the diplomatic level to reverse the equation and win new allies in this battle?

The reason is that the countries of the world now recognize the Skhirat agreement by a resolution of the Security Council, which obliges them to deal with the government of reconciliation, and has no other option unless a decision is made to expire this agreement and find an alternative formula, and this has not yet happened despite all efforts The United Nations Mission and its President, Mr. Ghassan Salameh. There are many reasons for not producing the alternative, most notably the role played by entities, groups and individuals that support and maintain the ongoing chaos, such as the so-called Presidential and Advisory Council, militias, oil smugglers and public money stealers, all of whom benefit from the status quo and hinder the efforts of UNMIS and any peaceful endeavors to produce Alternative to political agreement. As long as these data remain, the crisis will continue and there will be no political solution. The pursuit of a political solution in the presence of militias carrying arms is a waste of time, effort and continuity of the crisis. What we are doing at the diplomatic level is to convince the world that a political solution must be preceded by a surgical operation that leads to the dismantling and disarming of militias and the elimination of terrorism, then the mission can work effectively and the Libyans can reach an agreement as I mentioned earlier, and this is the goal of the military As the army unveils the fact that the army is fighting it and our diplomatic efforts in direct contact with the international community, the number of our international allies is increasing.

What is your comment on the recent briefing of the UN Special Envoy for Libya? Do you agree with his description of the crisis in Libya?

Mr. Salameh made a great effort and faced many difficulties and obstacles in the performance of his mission, which he may not have imagined at the beginning of his work as a UN envoy. He has no powers to impose any vision, he has no magic wand. He found the Skhirat Accord, which laid out a specific framework that he could not bypass. In earlier phases, he clashed with the international position on the Libyan crisis. It has also faced individuals and groups benefiting from the chaos and working to the best of their ability to block any political settlement. He tried his best to use his experience and diplomacy to implement his program, which he presented to the Security Council upon assuming his duties as UN envoy, but the circumstances were not easy, and he undoubtedly knows who is blocking his efforts to find a peaceful political settlement, and is well aware of our national position and principles. We treat him with transparency and credibility, and support his efforts to find a solution to the crisis. We would like to hear in all his briefings and statements the truth in full, openly and clearly. We would like to add here that the military operations carried out by the army are in support of his efforts to find a political solution, because it paves the way for him and creates the appropriate climate for any settlement. There are things that cannot be dealt with by flexible diplomacy and courtesy, and by no means can satisfy all parties. The policy of ambiguity does not serve the Libyan cause because it can shake confidence, and transparency remains the basis for success.

How do you assess the detention of two Russian citizens in Tripoli? Do you think that there is Russian interference in the Libyan crisis?

It is undoubtedly a crime by any measure, and reflects the absence of law, the deteriorating security situation and the lack of state authority in the capital. Kidnappings, arrests and assassinations have become commonplace in Tripoli, plaguing Libyans and foreigners alike. In terms of Russian intervention in Libya, Russia is committed not to interfere in the affairs of other countries, and it is one of the established principles we have seen in Russian foreign policy as long as it does not affect its national security. Russia is a great country and a permanent member of the Security Council and takes into account its special position it occupies among the countries of the world. Suffice it to mention Russia's consistent position, which always urges that the Libyans should address their cause among themselves without any foreign interference. At the same time, it follows closely and is interested in what is happening in Libya and what is happening in the international circles around it, given the strategic position occupied by our country and the long history of cooperation between the two countries in various fields, and has honorable positions in international forums towards the Libyan crisis, and do not hesitate to address any International resolutions that they believe harm the interests of the Libyan people.

Are you ready to allocate Russian oil companies facilities to work in Libya? Are there negotiations under way?

We see no objection to this. Russia is a friendly country with whom we have shared cooperation for decades and whose positions are honorable to the Libyan people. But it must be noted that the army has never been involved in the oil sector in terms of management, production, contracting and the like, our role is to protect the oil fields, ports and facilities. This sensitive sector, which we believe is in dire need of restructuring, regulation and control, is managed by the National Oil Corporation.

Do you think Russia can help lift the arms embargo on Libya? What are the Russian weapons that you may turn to arm them?

Certainly Russia can play an active role in lifting the arms embargo, but the resolution needs a majority in the Security Council and no veto. We know that the issue of lifting the embargo is not easy and requires international consensus, but the world must understand well what the national army is doing. We need arms to fight terrorism, secure borders, prevent illegal immigration and smuggling, and defend the homeland against any aggression. For the National Army immediately. The continuation of the embargo is the prolongation of the life of terrorism, the duration of the war and the increase in its costs. Were it not for the embargo, we would have eliminated terrorism in Libya years ago, and we would not have paid such a high price. It should be noted here that despite the ban, terrorist and militia organizations in Libya are flowing arms of all kinds by sea, air and daylight. We are surprised at how the world allows this and calls for fighting terrorism. How do we fight terrorism and the world imposes an arms embargo on us? As we fight the war on terror, we are building an army that has almost disappeared as a result of successive violent shocks and attempts to eliminate it over the past years. We need to develop the army with defensive combat systems in all types and with various advanced weapons. This serves not only Libya but also international peace and security. The weapons belonging to the national army are mostly Russian weapons, imported under agreements over the past decades, and are old and in need of regular maintenance. We use experts in this field.

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