The “religious” opinion, clearly justifying Saudi agendas in Libya, has stirred controversy in recent days.
Rabat – In an audio recording that went viral in recent days, Saudi Salafi scholar Oussama bin Ataya al-Atibi said it is imperative for Muslims to support the Libyan National Army (LNA) and its self-styled Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in the ongoing Libyan Civil War.
“It is a Shari’a (Islamic law) imperative to support the LNA,” al-Atibi argued.
المدخلية ليست تنظيما ولا مذهبا ولا طائفة ولا رؤية فكرية ولا هم يحزنون… هؤلاء صناعة مخابراتية عالمية ستنتهي بنهاية دورهم ووظيفتهم
Posted by Noureddine Lechhab on Monday, 29 June 2020
The Saudi scholar recalled his meeting with Haftar and some of his high-ranking officers, before explaining that he believes the LNA’s cause to be a “just” one.
“I sat with important figures. I sat with people who attended the Skhirat Agreement. I sat with members of the Parliament. I sat with ministers,” he said.
According to al-Atibi, Haftar’s campaign is “how peace is achieved, how security is achieved, how honor is preserved, how chastity is guarded, how bloodshed is prevented, and how money is conserved.”
“This is how Ahl al-Sunna (Sunni Muslims) are honored, and how Ahl al-Bid’a (Shi’a Muslims) are humiliated,” the scholar said.
“It is a Shari’a imperative to support the LNA, even if they appealed for the help of [Russian paramilitary] Wagner [group] and France,” al-Atibi continued, qualifying the LNA’s war opponents as “terrorist groups that want to destroy Islam and the unified country.”
“We have to support Haftar. We have to support the LNA, whose [members’] Salafi fragrant blood shed to defend unity in Libya,” he reiterated.
The Salafi scholar then gave his explanations for the involvement of the different foreign countries in the Libyan crisis, highlighting the support of Egypt and the UAE to the LNA, and also justifying Russia and France’s involvement, which are, according to him, “tyrant” countries.
“You must strike tyrants with tyrants,” al-Atibi explained, “You must give advantages to some opposing countries to gain their support.”
“Russia and France got involved because they refuse to let the US, the UK, and Italy exploit the resources of Libya. The two countries want to gain some resources too. How do they get these resources? They support the opposing army,” the scholar explained.
At the end of the audio recording, al-Atibi expresses his wishes for the success of the LNA and its leader: “I ask God Almighty to preserve the LNA, led by the Salafi militant hero Khalifa Haftar.”
Proxy war between Middle-Eastern powers
The scholar’s speech is representative of Saudi Arabia’s stance on the Libyan crisis. The Gulf country, as well as the UAE and Egypt, have for long expressed and acted in support of the LNA, going against the UN-led process to solve the conflict.
The crisis, which began in 2014, involves two main warring parties: The rebel LNA based in Tobruk, northeastern Libya, and the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, northwestern Libya.
Countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt are attempting to take advantage of the unrest in Libya to push forward their regional political and economic agendas, turning Libya into the site of a proxy war with high, complex stakes.
The three countries, as well as Russia, have sent arms to the LNA. On the other hand, the GNA, recognized by the UN and created after the Skhirat Agreement, in Morocco, has received weapons from Turkey—a country that has strained diplomatic relations with all the countries backing the LNA.
The audio recording is an illustration of how many Saudi clerics and scholars attempt to shape religion in a way that benefits their country’s rulers and their agendas.
On May 30, Saudi cleric Assim Alhakeem stirred controversy after claiming that protests are forbidden in Islam, setting the ground for Saudi authorities to arrest activists.
Morocco and centrality of Skhirat Agreement
While several countries quickly chose sides in the Libyan Civil War, Morocco has, since the start of the conflict, maintained a neutral position, refusing foreign intervention and calling for a political dialogue.
The Skhirat Agreement, signed in Morocco, remains to this date the only viable political framework to solve the crisis, Moroccan diplomacy reiterated on several occasions. The agreement, adopted on December 17, 2015, puts in place an interim Libyan government and a ceasefire between the conflict parties.
On January 30, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita denounced the “cynical interventionism” of foreign parties in Libyan domestic affairs.
Speaking before the African Union High-Level Committee on Libya, Bourita called on the warring parties to participate in a dialogue to reach a peaceful, long-lasting solution.
“The situation degenerates before our incredulous eyes, out of all control and to the detriment of all, to the detriment of the higher interest of the brotherly Libyan people, who suffer from it,” the Moroccan diplomat deplored.
Morocco considers both the LNA and the GNA to be “basically as patriotic as each other,” Bourita said.
The Skhirat Agreement “is still a sufficiently flexible reference to face new realities,” he added, explaining that the solution to the conflict must be political rather than military.
Morocco supports the agreement not just because it was made in Morocco, Bourita stressed, adding that the “agreement is the fruit of long discussions between Libyans themselves and not the result of a diplomatic meeting.”
The country “has no agenda in the Libyan conflict,” the minister emphasized. The kingdom “has only sincere regret to see it go on, and disinterested determination to see it progress towards resolution.”