White House Recognizes Haftar's Role in Libya, and for Libya

IndraStra Global

White House Recognizes Haftar's Role in Libya, and for Libya

By IndraStra Global News Team

White House Recognizes Haftar's Role in Libya, and for Libya

On April 19, 2019, the White House announced President Donald J. Trump's telephonic talk with Libyan National Army (LNA)'s Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. They discussed "ongoing counterterrorism efforts and the need to achieve peace and stability in Libya." The country has been gripped by anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.

The White House statement said Trump "recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system."

Earlier this month, Haftar and his forces launched an offensive against the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which is UN-backed and internationally recognized. As Haftar’s forces continue their advance towards Tripoli, GNA has stated that it would seek the prosecution of Haftar in the International Criminal Court  (ICC) in Hague.

White House statement directly contradicts with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement which was issued earlier this month. His statement issued on April 7th reads, "We have made clear that we oppose the military offensive by Khalifa Haftar's forces and urge the immediate halt to these military operations against the Libyan capital." He further added, "This unilateral military campaign against Tripoli is endangering civilians and undermining prospects for a better future for all Libyans."

Currently, Haftar enjoys the backing of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, which view him as "an anchor to restore stability and combat Islamist militants", while most Western powers have supported Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of GNA. As of till date, the US has primarily backed the GNA, but at the same time, Americans have maintained contacts with Haftar whose LNA controls much of eastern and southern Libya.

The reason for the recent shift in American policy towards Haftar can be derived from the last month's statement given by the U.S Marine Corps General Thomas D. Waldhauser (Head of USAFRICOM) to House Armed Services Committee in Congress that "the Russians were backing Haftar in part to secure influence in a strategic area on NATO's southern flank."

When asked why Moscow was backing Haftar, Waldhauser answered: "It gives them influence and it gives him influence in a key location in the southern (Mediterranean) on the southern part of the NATO, if you will, and it allows them then to reinvigorate some old Gaddafi-era contracts in the oilfield weapon sales and the like. So there's a strategic interest for them to be behind both sides, but primarily really Haftar."

With reporting by Al Jazeera, CNN, and The Indian Express