General Khalifa Haftar, commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) associated with the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), does not speak out very often but when he does, he says exactly what he thinks.
|Haftar's rare public statements often clearly show his contempt for the Libyan Dialogue, the UN and the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA). His biting barbs are in stark contrast with the guarded, often positive, bland pronouncements of Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Martin Kobler. Those people who try to manage Haftar's media appearances and public statements no doubt have an unenviable job.|
This nominal facade, along with recognition by Tobruk, has led some in the international community to accord Gen. Haftar’s forces more recognition than other militias and, with it, an air of legitimacy. In reality, neither Gen. Haftar nor his rivals control a force that represents a united army of Libya. In their struggle for supremacy, they have acted as enablers for ISIS while each uses the threat they have allowed to fester as an excuse to continue their essentially local turf wars.This is a description for those supporting the GNA against Haftar and the view of the U.S. and many in the EU. It is not the view of Egypt, the UAE, or the Arab League. While the description is correct in that Haftar's LNA is not a united army of Libya, these countries want Haftar to lead any national army under the new GNA. This is why the HoR has not yet accepted the GNA — it has yet to offer Haftar the role he wants. The problem for the UN and GNA is that if he is offered that role, the GNA government — with many Islamist and other opponents of Haftar — will implode. To many of them, Haftar's being in charge of the LNA would mean a return to a Gadaffi-like regime. The situation is not helped by Haftar bringing in to the LNA many Gadaffi-era figures.