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article imageOp-Ed: U.S. sends commandos to Libya but has to send them home

By Ken Hanly     Dec 17, 2015 in World
Tobruk - The complications arising from the signing of a UN-sponsored agreement to form a third government in Libya are already beginning as the Libyan Air Force blows the cover on U.S. commando operations in Libya.
Although there is to be a new unity Government of National Accord within a month or so, for now the U.S. and others are dealing with the internationally-recognized House of Representatives in Tobruk. The armed forces of the Libyan National Army are headed by CIA-linked Khalifa Haftar. The commander of the air force is a staunch ally of Haftar.
Just on Monday, a group of 20 U.S. commandos were ordered to leave Libya. The Libyan Air Force obviously blew the cover on the U.S. Special Operations Forces at one of the Air Forces' bases. They posted photos on their Facebook page showing a group of U.S. Special Operations Forces.
Senior U.S. defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the incident to NBC News. According to the officials, U.S. commandos had been "in and out of Libya" for some time now. Obviously, this was with the permission of Haftar and his air force commander buddy. The Special Forces commandos are said to be there solely to advise Libyan forces. One U.S. official said that there was a "lack of communication" between the base in Wattiya where they landed and the Libyan forces who would normally "engage" with the American advisers.
The Libyan Air Force post said that "a US military plane landed with 20 US soldiers aboard..without prior coordination". It described the soldiers in a way which makes it seen as if they were ready for more than advising. They were said to have "disembarked in combat readiness wearing bullet proof jackets, advanced weaponry, silencers, handguns, night vision devices, and GPS devices." The commandos said they had coordinated with other members of the Libyan army. The Facebook statement concluded: "The response from your heroic army stationed at Watiya base was to tell them to depart immediately and the group left , keeping their equipment with them."
Haftar and his Air Force ally may be telling the Americans who is boss and that there is no Government of National Accord in charge of the armed forces. It is unclear what the status of Khalifa Haftar will be. According to the LPA, senior members of the new government are to act as commander in chief of the Libyan Army. Haftar will never stand for that. He has opposed the LPA from the beginning. However, Haftar met recently with Kobler. Kobler said the meeting was "fruitful" but gave no details. Haftar said nothing about opposing the LPA. The two agreed on the need to fight terrorism. According to Haftar this means fighting the armed forces of the rival GNC government. He has been doing this since May of 2014 through his Operation Dignity. The appended video shows one of the first actions in Operation Dignity the burning of the Libyan Parliament. Even then he wanted to set up a military council to govern Libya. He still does. He has paid no attention to warnings from the UN or even being named as a subject of sanctions: Two military leaders in the east of Libya, who say their forces will not respect any peace accord, also face sanctions. They are General Khalifa Haftar, commander in chief of the eastern forces and air force head Fakir Jarroushi. He was never sanctioned nor was his Air Force buddy. This incident is no doubt just a warning to the Americans and anyone else paying attention that they had better not try to work around his authority. Another new government is not going to change things. They need to deal with him. Note that in meeting with Haftar, Kobler had to go to Haftar's headquarters in Marj rather than Haftar traveling to meet Kobler.
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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