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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

UK and Jordanian special forces working together in Libya

The Guardian reports that British special forces (SAS) have been deployed in Libya alongside Jordanian special forces since the beginning of this year.

The Guardian claim is based on a leaked memo in which U.S. lawmakers were briefed by Jordan's King Abdullah on plans for Jordan's own special forces to operate in Libya alongside those of the UK. The meeting was in the week of January 11. The memo said that the king met with congressional leaders including John McCain, Bob Corker, and Paul Ryan speaker of the House of Representatives. The king remarked that the Jordanian forces could be useful for the U.S. in that Jordanian slang is quite similar to Libyan slang.
The UK Ministry of Defence did not comment on the operations of the UK special forces and none of the high-ranking US senators contacted would grant an interview. One senate source did admit that the U.S. legislators met with the king in January but did not comment on what was discussed. Jordan is a key ally of the U.S. in the Middle East, having provided it with over $15 billion in military aid over a number of years.
Angus Robertson of the Scottish National party asked that UK special forces (SAS) be subject to parliamentary oversight but PM David Cameron rejected the demand. Crispin Blunt, the foreign affairs select committee chair, said:“King Abdullah gives a level of insight that we don’t get from our own governments. He has given presentations to parliamentarians behind closed doors in the past. We don’t get that from our own ministers. When [the foreign office minister] Tobias Ellwood told us about RAF flights over Libya these were plainly in support of special forces missions. But when we asked for details we were told the government doesn’t comment on special forces...There is a tendency for the British establishment to work out everything very carefully and then present it to parliament as ‘a take it or leave it’ choice. And then ministers wonder why they have difficulties in parliament.”In an interview with Atlantic magazine recently, U.S. President Barack Obama criticized Cameron for not following through to ensure a smooth transition to democracy in Libya after Gadaffi was overthrown.
The UK and Jordanians probably have the support of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives (HoR), as well as the commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army, General Khalifa Haftar. In July of last year, Haftar was threatened with sanctions and named to be sanctioned by the EU. The next month he travelled to Jordan and signed a military agreement with the country. Nothing more was heard about any sanctions against him and he obviously has the support of Jordan.


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