The West should keep an open mind; maybe Haftar is right

I am usually critical of Trump’s populist stances. This time he is right and is hopefully guiding the international community in the right direction.
Sunday 21/04/2019
Libya’s Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar in the eastern city of Tobruk. (AFP)
Libya’s Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar in the eastern city of Tobruk. (AFP)

These are strange days. On the one hand, Europeans and Americans denounce Islamic extremism and say they want to isolate Iran. At the same time, they are oblivious to the fact that Qatari lends support to radical Islamists and keeps strong ties with Iran.

These observations come to mind in view of the position of the Europeans and the Americans towards developments in Libya. The world’s champions of democracy, security and freedom, human rights and the rule of law seem at times unhappy about the Libyan National Army’s push to impose security and the rule of law in Tripoli.

Even US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Libyan Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces to halt their military operations towards Tripoli.

All was drifting in an odd direction until US President Donald Trump shifted course. A White House statement April 19 said Trump “recognised Field-Marshal [Khalifa] Haftar’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.”

I am usually critical of Trump’s populist stances. This time he is right and is hopefully guiding the international community in the right direction.

European officials, especially the Italians and the Brits, should be cognisant of the fact that the Libyan National Army is going to Tripoli to expel the rogue armed groups. They should know better than anyone that the internationally recognised Libyan government of Fayez al-Sarraj is under the control of militias, jihadists and other rogue elements.

There is no better proof of Sarraj’s ineptitude than the testimonial of Ali al-Qatrani, who resigned as vice-president of the Libyan Presidential Council because of Sarraj’s refusal to consult with other council members. “Sarraj is a puppet of the militias and he will lead Libya to further suffering and dissension,” said Qatrani.

Unfortunately, Sarraj is not a man of his word. He is said to have reached an agreement with Haftar in Abu Dhabi to curtail the militias’ power but he failed to deliver.

Moreover, it is under Sarraj’s rule that Turkish ships, sent by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, laden with weapons and ammunition went to Libya. Funding for Islamist groups flowed from Qatar in broad daylight.

After all this wavering in the West regarding events in Tripoli, can’t we keep an open mind to the possibility that maybe Haftar is right?

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