Exiled Libyan leaders plot against Islamists

UN’s mission calls for a new round of talks to start on Tuesday between country’s warring parties.

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December 3, 2014 22:00
2 minute read.
Muslim Brotherhood demonstration, Amman, August 8, 2014.

Muslim Brotherhood demonstration, Amman, August 8, 2014. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Exiled Libyan political and business leaders have been meeting secretly in Cairo to plot efforts to neutralize Islamist groups that control large swaths of the country, an Arab newspaper reported.

According to a leaked document obtained by the London-based Asharq al-Awsat, the talks are seeking a way to deal with the Libya Dawn Islamist group, other Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated militias and al-Qaida-affiliated Ansar al-Shari’a.

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Libya Dawn and Ansar al-Shari’a control the capital, Tripoli, as well as Benghazi and Derna in the east.

The meetings were organized by “moderate” Islamist figures and supporters of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, said the document.

“The Libyan Dawn force and its Brotherhood leaders have to know that they will not be able to enter into talks with international brokers over a solution in Libya as long as they refuse to recognize the parliament that people chose through the ballot box and in a democratic manner,” said one of the moderates.

Libya has two governments and parliaments vying for power since Libya Dawn seized Tripoli in August after a month-long battle with a rival group and set up its own cabinet.

Internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni has been forced to work from the east of the country where the elected House of Representatives is also based.

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The document also said there is disagreement over Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who is leading an anti-Islamist military force, according to the report published Tuesday.

One of the former Libyan political leaders asked to meet with Egyptian government officials, but was simply told to continue “measures on the ground” against the Brotherhood.

Some of the meetings held recently included representatives from the US, EU and Russia.

“Some senior politicians and businessmen in Misrata are worried about the future, both on the national and international level, particularly after the UN Security Council issued its resolution 2161 in mid-2014 imposing financial sanctions and travel bans on figures and entities that use, fund or call for violence,” said the document quoted in Asharq al-Awsat.

Meanwhile, the UN’s mission in Libya will call for a new round of talks to start on Tuesday between Libya’s warring parties, it said in a statement on Wednesday, to try to end a conflict threatening to tear apart the oil-producing nation.

The UN mission did not say where talks would be held nor who would participate.

This comes as at least three people were killed on Tuesday in air strikes on a town west of Tripoli carried out by forces loyal to Libya’s internationally recognized government.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged the United States and Europe last month to help the Libyan army in its fight against Islamists now to save the country from requiring intervention on the scale of Iraq and Syria.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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