General Khalifa Haftar, leader of Libyan militias known as the Libyan National Army (LNA) loyal to the parliament in Tobruk, has hailed Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt for his strength in getting rid of the Muslim Brotherhood.
He also praised al-Sisi saying that Egypt stood by Libya politically and morally, noting that despite Egypt’s stance against the Muslim Brotherhood during Morsi’s presidency, Libya would have been in great danger.
Haftar, who is well-known for his anti-Islam position, told Egypt’s ‘On TV’ that the Brotherhood had not existed in Libya until it went there from Egypt.
General Haftar, who has been trying to control the country by force of arms, added “All praise to Allah that a strong hand — Al-Sisi’s hand — appeared on time and got rid of the Brotherhood.”
As far as he is concerned, he pointed, to Egypt’s movement which won the first free, democratic elections in Egypt after the outbreak of 25 January Revolution.
In July 2013, Al-Sisi led a military coup against Egypt’s first democratic elected President Mohamed Morsi.
After the military coup, al-Sisi launched a brutal crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-democracy demonstrators, resulting in thousands of people being killed and wounded, including academics,journalists and opposition politicians. Thousands more have been imprisoned or have fled the country.
Haftar is a military figure, backed by Tobruk government based in eastern Libya that refuses to recognize the U.N.-backed government, enjoys the support of several Arab nations, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, as well as western countries as France.
Since the Libyan Revolution that overthrew the long-time dictator 2011 Muammar Gaddafi, violence has spread in Libya among the different Libyan factions.
Two rival governments operate in Libya, with self-proclaimed authorities controlling the capital of Tripoli and adjacent western areas and an internationally recognized government, based in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk.
Moreover, a third government was formed known as the Government of National Accord(GNA) supported by many western countries. The government has so far failed to restore the country’s unity.
None of the governments has a complete dominance over Libya until now.
However, there are recent media reforms that said that “members of the Trump team have started discussing the Haftar option,“said the Independent(British newspaper),an option that has been rejected by Obama administration. In addition, this option won’t be preferred by other European countries who mainly support the UN backed government of Fayez al-Serraj.
An American official in Brussels said, “The Trump people may well think Libya would be a less sensitive theater to cooperate with the Russians on counter-terrorism than Syria: the common conception is that Libya is a mess – we have Daesh [ISIS] running around there and if this guy Haftar is being effective, then maybe he is the man.”
There is no doubt that Al-Sisi of Egypt has probably played a major role in presenting Haftar’s option to Trump,portraying Libya’s strong military man as a bulwark against extremism and terrorism in Libya.
It is worth to mention that Egypt’s military ruler Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Haftar’s ally, shares close issued with Trump’s foreign policies against extremism and terrorism in the Middle East. Al-Sisi was the first foreign leader to congratulate Trump after his victory in the US elections.
In this context,the Independent newspaper reported that al-Sisi “has been pressing Washington to switch its support to General Haftar.” It also added that according to reports, “members of the Trump team have started discussing the Haftar option.”
Like al-Sisi,Haftar has been portraying himself as a Libya’s military leader who is launching war against terrorism,however, while forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) were busy battling to eradicate ISIS in Sirte, Gen.Haftar militias were waging war against his political enemies in Derna and Benghazi,under the banner of war on terrorism.
In May 2016, Haftar launched Operation Volcano in Derna, which has been viewed as an extension of Operation Dignity, to allegedly liberate the city from terrorism and Islamist control.
In May 2014, Operation Dignity was launched by Haftar’s militia to eradicate Islamists from Libya, who he considers to be terrorists and his political enemies.
It is worth to mention that Derna’s Shura Council has openly opposed Haftar, and although they were able to drive out ISIS from the city without his help in April 2016,he attacked them.
One of the reasons why Haftar has launched a war against the eastern city, despite the fact that the Derna Shura Council has maintained that they are not affiliated with any terrorist group, was because Haftar aimed at that time to establish full control in eastern Libya as political leverage.
Haftar’s battles were mainly to consolidate his power and influence in the east, which he can use to spread his power all over Libya and portray himself as the only solution for Libya’s stability and union.