Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC)
The DMSC issued a new statement after Hijazi’s remarks against Haftar, re-denouncing Operation Dignity, the coalition of militias and fighters associated with Haftar’s LNA, and reaffirming their position against it. The DMSC also dismissed Hijazi’s comments ‘equating ISIS with its sisters’ (which is seen as a reference to the jihadi councils and Islamist militias affiliated with the General National Congress in Tripoli).
One of the key items in the statement is a reference to Operation Dignity’s invitation of foreign intervention forces (with a special reference to Italy). The statement adds that the recent events demonstrate that Operation Dignity is not a supporter of the February 17 revolution, but instead, a supporter of foreign invasion and domination of Libya.
It is worthwhile to note that Libya, in this context, was referred to as Libya ‘Al Mukhtar’. Omar al-Mukhtar is a well-known martyred Liyan hero who was hanged for resisting Italian occupation. In the last two weeks, some ISIS propaganda videos disseminated in Libya carried a watermark of Mukhtar, a clear manipulation of Libyan nationalist grievances and the legacy of anti-colonial resistance for the benefit of ISIS recruitment.
There are also reports of a new militia created in Derna called Grandsons of Omar al-Mukhtar Brigade in alliance with revolutionary councils across the country. In its first statement issued on 20 January, the militia promised to fight the GNA. According to the militia, action against the GNA was required when it became clear that a new green zone would be established in Tripoli, repeating the events of Iraq in Libya.
It is still not clear who is behind the group, but it would seem that both ISIS, and it’s Islamist militia rivals in Libya are now both appropriating the symbolism of Mukhtar’s legacy in Libya as means to recruit supporters to their causes.
Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC)
The commander of the BRSC forces in Benghazi, Mohammed al-Dressi (also known as al-Noss), made a video statement in response to the accusations made by Hijazi against Haftar. He called on the tribes from Eastern Libya to wake up to Haftar’s criminal conspiracy, warning that blind loyalty to Haftar is akin to supporting Gaddafi.
Dressi also addressed the city of Benghazi, asking citizens to reconsider the accusations made by Hijazi. Hijazi had also claimed that Haftar and his militias were behind the unidentified assassinations and beheadings of officers and civilians in Benghazi. Dressi called on the residents of Benghazi fighting alongside the LNA (usually called by the Iraqi term Sahawat or ‘awakened units’) to reject Haftar’s manipulation and repent, before the ‘Mujahedeen’ (BRSC fighters) overcome them and punish them for their sins.
Ajdabiya Revolutionary Shura Council (ARSC)
Fighting has noticeably decreased in and around Ajdabiya over the last two weeks, due to the reduction of support to the LNA units in the city, and the defection of many of the extremists to the IS redoubt in Sirte. However, LNA airstrikes continue to target locations around the industrial complex in Ajdabiya.