Libya’s Haftar accuses Qatar of sabotage attempts

The renegade general said that the Gulf state was placing ‘obstacles’ in his way

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The leader of a military operation aimed at ridding Libya of Islamist militants has accused Qatar of “insisting” on making the North African country a weaker state, in an exclusive interview on Sunday with Al Arabiya News Channel’s sister channel, al-Hadath.

“Qatar has been targeting us from the first day we arrived in the country,” said renegade Libyan General Khalifa Haftar who is heading “Operation Dignity” – a military offensive aimed at breaking the strength of Islamist militias and their supporting political factions dominating the parliament.

Haftar, who returned to Libya in 2011 to join the uprising against former strongman Muammar Qaddafi, said Qatar has begun placing what he described as “obstacles” in his way after failing to find supporters.

The renegade general also said that Qatar was hampering the formation of a national army and police force in Libya.

“It placed obstacles to an extent that it didn’t want any police or army [force] and it is still insisting on that,” he said.

In terms of the regional scene, he highlighted countries such as Egypt, Chad, Niger, Mali, Algeria and Tunisia as “all cooperating with us,” and added that Sudan’s position is not “clear.

Fresh offensive

Haftar’s comments come the same day forces loyal to the rogue general clashed with Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi, killing eight people and wounding 15, military and medical sources said.

The clashes were among the fiercest since Khalifa began his offensive against radical Islamist groups in Benghazi on May 16, when at least 76 people were killed, according to Agence France-Presse.

Sunday’s fighting left at least five people dead and 12 wounded, according to the al-Abyar hospital southwest of Benghazi, where Haftar’s forces have retreated to.

The general, who accuses several Libyan officials of collaborating with Islamist radical groups such as al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia, claimed earlier this month to have more than 75 percent of Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, under his control.

“We are vowing to be victorious in a short time,” he said.

“The loss, in comparison to the [enemy’s loss],is nothing. We are in a much better position than before.”

While the Tripoli government says that Haftar has no authority to act, its orders are routinely ignored in much of the country, especially the east as rival militias and tribal groups vie for control.

The latest fighting in Libya comes less than two weeks before a parliamentary election that citizens hope will bring an end to the chronic political infighting that has paralyzed decision-making since the last vote in summer 2012.

(With Reuters)