Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CIA-linked General Haftar is the power behind the Libyan Tobruk government


Tripoli - CIA-linked General Haftar has upgraded his status from failed coup leader with a warrant out for his arrest to the de facto head of the Libyan army whose Operation Dignity has the support of the internationally recognized government in Tobruk.

The rise of Haftar is detailed in this article. Haftar is no longer a retired or renegade Libyan general as some sources still describe him. In fact he along with many other Gadaffi era military personnel have been recalled to active duty. Haftar's militia and the official Libyan army are now supposedly merged. Back on January 19th, Reuters reported that Haftar along with many other Gadaffi era army officers had been reactivated: A copy of an official decree obtained by Reuters recalled Haftar and 108 other former Gaddafi-era army officers for active army duty...Senior officers linked to Haftar have also been given top posts in the recall. The decree had been issued weeks before but only revealed later.

 Earlier, in December, there were reports that Haftar was to be made commander-in-chief of Libya's armed forces. However, there apparently is some opposition to this. According to this source, Ageila Saleh, Libyan Parliamentary Speaker is acting defense minister but the chain of command is not clear. Statements from the Tobruk government describe Haftar as commander of the Libyan National Army: The commander of the Libyan National Army, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, is operating on the authority of the internationally recognized Libyan government based out of Tobruk, Libyan authorities confirmed this week. Apparently, there are divisions within the Tobruk government over Haftar's role. The Tobruk government is more dependent on Haftar and his militia than the other way around. According to Al Jazeera Haftar gave the Tobruk government of Abdullah al-Thinni 24 hours to set up a supreme military council with himself as head: This Al Jazeera video was published on You Tube February 4th. I can find no followup accounts of what has happened since. A search reveals only duplicates of the Al Jazeera video as here. Why cannot Al Jazeera follow up and inform us what happened if anything as a consequence of the ultimatum? Why do none of the big news gathering agencies Reuters, AFP, etc, even report on this event?

 The Al Jazeera video report is not the only sign of conflict between Haftar and the Al-Thinni government. The prime minister recently visited troops battling Islamist militia in Benghazil. He held a cabinet meeting in Benghazi after visiting military commanders. However, according to Interior Minister Omar al-Zanki: "When Thinni's plane was approaching Benghazi an officer came and said permission to land had been denied," The plane did eventually land. Another incident happened when a convoy of Tobruk officials were stopped by an armed group of 70 soldiers as it tried to leave the city of Marj near Benghazi. Spokesperson for Haftar Mohamed El Hejazi accused Thinni of having visited Benghazi without permission:"We are unhappy with Thinni's visit to Benghazi because he didn't ask for a permission from the army commander and chief of staff. His meeting with the commanders of the frontline was not his business as he doesn't even hold a military command to meet them." The prime minister should realize who is the real boss.

A new dialogue and peace talks are supposed to take place somewhere in Libya next Tuesday. The Tobruk government has always participated in the talks even as their military commander Khalifa continues to fight on the grounds he is simply pursuing terrorists. At least one critic suggests that Haftar's action are jeopardizing the success of the peace talks and that the west should be more careful in choosing its allies.

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