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article imageOp-Ed: US officials meet with UAE supported politician in Libya

By Ken Hanly     Nov 22, 2019 in Politics
Trump administration officials have held several meeting with Libyan politician Aref al-Nayed an alleged ally of Marshal Khalifa Haftar who took control of eastern Libya and is attacking the capital Tripoli supposedly to liberate it from terrorists.
Al Nayed himself said of the meetings: “My two visits were for the purpose of presenting the narrative of Libya’s duly elected Parliament, its transitional government, and its Libyan National Army, and our reading of the current situation, as well as detailed plans for the formation of a National Unity Government, and holding general presidential elections within 18 months from the liberation of Tripoli,” Nayed told Defense One in an email. “The reception was attentive and positive, and we deeply appreciate it.”'
US may be reconsidering support for UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA)
A recent article notes :"US support for the UN-recognized Libyan government is in question after a series of quiet meetings with an enterprising presidential hopeful. Trump administration officials have had multiple meetings with a Libyan politician aligned with the opposition general fighting the U.S.-backed government in Tripoli, hinting that the administration may be rethinking its Libya policy. "
Many countries give lip-service to support of UN-recognized government (GNA)
The Russians in particular have given clear support for Haftar who has visited Moscow a couple of times. Russian mercenaries associated with the Wagner organization appear active helping Haftar. Even so Russia nominally supports the internationally recognized Libyan government.
France too appears to give some support to Haftar while denying it does so. As an article this April noted: "Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj accuses France of supporting the renegade general, just a day after details emerge of French intelligence operatives working in the country.
The UAE is evidently helping Haftar as is Egypt. No doubt many countries want to keep their options open as Haftar has a powerful position within Libya. The big powers would like to see him as part of the solution rather than try to confront him and destroy his forces. Haftar, a former CIA asset and a US citizen, appears to recognize this reluctance and uses his military power whenever he can.
US position is unclear
The US gives some support to the UN-recognized government and some US officials have demanded that Haftar stop attacking the capital. However Trump has talked up Haftar as having a substantial role in any future Libyan government.
In April Trump appeared to support Haftar and his offensive: "President Trump threw U.S. support for the GNA into question in April when he called Hifter — a dual Libyan-American citizen and a former CIA asset — in the early days of the offensive and appeared to endorse his campaign against the capital. The White House said in a statement at the time that Trump “recognised Field Marshal Hifter’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.” " Trump's support fits in with Haftar's narrative that he is liberating Tripoli from terrorism. However, Haftar's tactics are to class all his opponents as terrorists.
The US State Department does not attempt to clarify the US position but keeps it unclear saying that the talks with Naref are part of the "broad outreach" the US is engaged in and declining to make any comments beyond that. However such tactics are bound to weaken the power of the internationally recognized government. There are some countries such as Turkey that are giving significant support to the existing government. However, most of the big powers are paying lip service to the existing government while doing nothing to prevent Haftar's attacks accept for some moral exhortation for him to refrain from violence. This is unlikely to deter Haftar.
UAE may be shifting support to Nayed over Haftar
Nayed be more of a replacement for Haftar rather than an ally although no doubt there will be some prominent place in a new government promised to Haftar. A recent article notes: "The source explained that the UAE is going to impose Al-Nayed and his new government on Haftar as it wants to present civilian figures to make up for the latest failure and chaos created by Haftar and his forces. “Abu Dhabi threatened Haftar that it would pull out military backup and financial support from him and his forces if he resisted it’s new vision for Libya.” The source told the local TV channel." Of course this is an anonymous source but this could very well be what is happening as Haftar appears to be failing in his attempt to take Tripoli.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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