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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

In Libya Benghazi Defence Brigades agree to disband

The Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) has offered to dissolve itself and integrate some members into a legitimate army of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA). The group claims the move is to save Libya from further bloodshed.

The BDB was formed in June of 2016 to protect the Benghazi Shura Council from the Libyan National Army forces of Khalifa Haftar. Haftar has retaken almost all of Benghazi which at one time was mostly occupied by the Council. The BDB would have liked to retake Benghazi and allow those displaced to return. The Brigades have often clashed with Haftar forces, including in two oil ports that with others they wrested from Haftar's control for a short period. After being ousted they clashed with forces loyal to Haftar in the southern Al-Jufra area. Some BDB members were involved in the GNA offensive against the Islamic State in Sirte. Not long ago, they were headquartered along with GNA-loyal forces at the Al-Jufra air base. However, the entire area is now under control of Haftar forces and both the BDB and the Third Force of the GNA retreated.
The BDB maintains it retreated to avoid further bloodshed and not take the battle to peaceful areas of Libya. More likely the BDB faced another defeat and the GNA seems to have allowed Haftar to advance after the GNA dismissed its defense minister Al-Bargathi subsequent to an unauthorized attack on an air base occupied by Haftar. The attack killed many and was described by some as a war crime. After this, it seems that the GNA gave up the entire Al-Jufra area to Haftar without a fight.
The BDB claimed that it was not a terrorist organization and that it had no ideological or political aim. The group said that a number of BDB members were ready to enlist in the Libyan army (GNA) and help build military institutions. No doubt the members will still be implacable foes of Haftar. The group insisted that its members still had the right to return to the city of Benghazi. The BDB statement said that it was forwarding their intention to dissolve to concerned state authorities for consideration. The BDB was placed on a terror list by Saudi Arabia,. UAE, and Bahrain. The Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) also put out a list that included the head of the High State Council of the GNA as well as the BDB.
In reply to the list, the BDB issued their own. Surprisingly Khalifa Haftar is not on the BDB list but some associated with him are including the president of the HoR Ageela Saleh and the PM of the HoR government Abdullah Thinni. There are eleven names in all.

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