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'Cut ties, declare war' with UAE aggressor, Libyan GNA official says

The UAE is a strong backer of the GNA's rival Haftar forces [Anadolu Agency]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2020

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A Libyan GNA official is calling on his government to cut ties with the United Arab Emirates and officially consider the country an aggressor.

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Libya, GNA, UN, UAE
An official in Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord on Friday urged his government to set up an emergency meeting on the UAE's involvement in the Libyan conflict.

Mohamed Ammari Zayed, a member of the GNA Presidential Council, requested the cabinet set up an urgent meeting to put a stop to what he said was 'a violation of Libya's sovereignty.'

"There is no doubt about the UAE's role in Libyan bloodshed and its violation of Libyan sovereignty," Zayed said in the statement.

The UAE is a major backer of the anti-government Haftar forces – militants loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.

Zayed accused the UAE of "invading land and forming military bases" inside Libya, as well as "violating Libya's airspace to strike Libyan civilians."

The GNA official also explicitly condemned the Emirates' backing of Haftar

Last month, the Financial Times investigated shipments of jet fuel worth $5 million by the UAE, sent to Benghazi, the eastern Libyan city under the control of Haftar's militias. 

"We call on the the cabinet of the Government of National Accord to hold an emergency meeting to decide on cutting all ties with the UAE immediately, and consider it an aggressor nation in relation to Libya, and consider us to be in a state of war," Zayed said.

The UAE-backed Haftar forces are responsible for the majority of civilian deaths resulting from conflict in Libya this year, according to a UN report

The majority of these deaths are resulting from air strikes and shelling operations, according to the UN. The shelling is part of Haftar's offensive on Tripoli, which was announced last year and has so far claimed hundreds of lives and displaced some 200,000 people.

Last week, after an initial investigation on Libya, the International Criminal Court warned that under the Rome Statute, the intentional targeting of civilians is a war crime that it can prosecute.  

Read also: Is Libya on the road to de facto partition?

In March, the GNA – backed by the Turkish military – launched a counteroffensive against Haftar, which receives military and diplomatic backing from Russia, Egypt, and France, in addition to the UAE.

Since Haftar's proclaimed Libyan National Army launched their offensive on Tripoli, both sides of the conflict have reiterated accusations that the other was deploying foreign forces in the ongoing civil war.

In January, the Libyan High Council of State also called on the GNA presidential council to cut ties with the UAE, referring to it as "a state of hostility and war".

At the time, the council also recommended "reassessing relations with all countries that assist or communicate" with Haftar.

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