first initiated a failed coup in February 2014. An arrest warrant was issued to apprehend him for attempting a coup. In May he started his Operation Dignity to purge Libya of Islamists, including not only an attack on Islamic militias in Benghazi but also burning down the parliament buildings. He was still not arrested even though the then prime minister of the interim government Abdullah al-Thinni called his actions illegal and noted there was a warrant out for his arrest. He was never arrested. He was untouchable.
Now in April 2015 the same Abdullah al-Thinni is prime minister of the internationally recognized government in Tobruk. Instead of arresting Haftar, Thinni is such a strong supporter of Haftar that he made him commander of the armed forces. Haftar has said that he is going to recapture Benghazi which, until Haftar's recent offensive, was mostly held by the Council of Shura Revolutionaries. He has also vowed to retake Tripoli. He has had the full support of Al Thinni and his government in his actions and announcements.
Until recently, he has completely rejected the peace talks calling them discussions with terrorists. Even though he does not now reject them outright, he says there will be no ceasefire with militias. This position completely rejects a key feature of the negotiations, which would involve a ceasefire and complete cessation of hostilities between the militia of the two competing governments. The UN has continually warned the parties not to take military or other actions that would jeopardize the peace process on pain of facing sanctions. Consider what Haftar has done.
Haftar bombed the Mitiga airport
before a recent series of talks began. During the talks he started an offensive against Tripoli. There was a pause in the talks and just when they were to resume again Haftar bombed the Mitiga airport near Tripoli just before Tripoli representatives were to leave for the talks. The talks had to be delayed until the next day. Again there were denunciations by the UN and a warning that parties who are responsible for taking actions that disrupted the peace process could face sanctions. Did Haftar get the message? The message that Haftar had been getting for some time is that no one would stop him if he continued what he had intended to do, and that is defeat the Islamists, including the alternative government and its militia.
Just as the new supposedly final and most important rounds of talks were to begin, Haftar's forces bombed Mitiga airport again at least according to
a spokesperson for the Libyan National Army(LNA) of which he is commander. There are other reports that indicate that a military base ten kilometres away was the target. The attack happened just as the Tripoli representatives' plane was about to take off. The UN envoy in charge of the peace talks, Bernardino Leon, complained that “we have never seen air strikes at the moment when one of the delegations is taking off on its way to the talks.” Leon demanded an investigation.
This will certainly ensure that Haftar will stop all his nasty ways. Haftar has never tried to cover up the fact that he was behind the other bombings and his spokesperson has acknowledged the LNA is behind the present bombings. I await the announcement that Khalifa Haftar has been sanctioned. The idea that Haftar would accept any unity government with any Islamists in it is risible. He has often said that he would not. There will be no political solution or peace as long as Haftar is commander of the Tobruk government armed forces. Western supporters of the peace process must know this. The west has been outmanoeuvred by Egypt, Russia, the UAE, and the Saudis. Russia is now a big friend and military supplier to Egypt with the US now deciding all of a sudden that it should release military funds to Egypt to the tune of $1.3 billion to help fight terrorism. Egypt may well use some of this military weapons bonanza to help their fellow anti-Islamist warrior Khalifa Haftar in Libya. No one dare touch Haftar.