Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—As divisions within Libya over general Khalifa Haftar continue to escalate, the Muslim Brotherhood has strongly condemned statements made by the former army chief in a wide-ranging interview with Asharq Al-Awsat published earlier this week. During the interview, Haftar pledged to “purge” Libya of Muslim Brotherhood members, describing the group as a “malignant disease that is seeking to spread throughout the bones of the Arab world.”
The secretary-general of Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood, Bashir Al-Kabti, rejected Haftar’s accusations, characterizing his forces’ attack on Benghazi as part of a “military coup” and stressing that the Brotherhood in Libya have always worked within the framework of the law.
Responding to Haftar’s threat to “purge” Libya of the Muslim Brotherhood, Kabti told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I said previously that it is impossible for this to happen in Libya, because all Libyan people are armed. There is a pistol or machine gun or rocket-propelled grenade in every household. All types of weapons are available on the street—we are talking about 22 to 25 kinds of weapon currently on the streets.”
“We are part of the Libyan people. If there is any proof that a Muslim Brotherhood member or anybody else has been involved in terrorist activities, then he must be arrested. We are not above the law,” he added.
“If he [Haftar] is in control of Libyan territory and people agree with this, then we will also agree. But we want justice and we want to see evidence for the accusations being put forward. We do not want to return to the pre-February 17 era,” the Brotherhood leader added.
On Wednesday evening, Haftar, flanked by senior Libyan Armed Forces officers, called on the embattled Tripoli government to hand over power to Libya’s judiciary. The retired general’s Libyan National Army—denounced as an illegal organization by the central government—has received pledges of support and backing from across the country, reportedly including the military and police forces and the Interior Ministry.
“I call on the top judicial council to form a crisis government to oversee the next elections,” the retired general said on Wednesday evening. Government-affiliated Islamist militias were reportedly deployed in the capital on Thursday in response to Haftar’s call, with the former army chief previously telling Asharq Al-Awsat that his forces will reach the capital “soon.”