Are Americans changing their guns in Libya?

Khalifa Haftar (our photo) has the approval of the White House to seize Tripoli, says the "New York Times" in May 2019. REUTERS / Esam Omran Al-Fetori / File Photo

Text by: Houda Ibrahim Follow

The latest statements from US officials suggest this. After a green light given to Khalifa Haftar to launch its surprise offensive on Tripoli, on April 4, 2019, Washington now praises the efforts of the government of national unity (GNA) in "combating terrorism". Earlier this week, the United States military denounced the Russian intervention alongside Khalifa Haftar's forces. Is American policy in Libya confused or pragmatic?


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In May 2019, the New York Times revealed that Khalifa Haftar had the approval of the White House to seize Tripoli. According to the daily, the national security adviser at the time, John Bolton, said: "  If you want to attack, do it, but do it quickly  ". It was a few days before the inclusive national conference prepared by the United Nations. And Khalifa Haftar promised to win this war in a few days to consolidate his position before sitting down at the dialogue table.

On April 14, ten days after the start of the offensive, he received a call from Donald Trump. The American president then praised Khalifa Haftar's efforts in the fight against terrorism, according to a press release from the White House. A position in contradiction with that of the State Department and it is controversial in Washington: "  We are against this military offensive and we call to stop it immediately  " announced the American Secretary of State, George Pompeo in April 2019.

American contradiction

A contradiction that lifts a corner of the veil on pro-Haftar lobbying in the American capital, led by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, as well as by lobbying companies paid millions of dollars. A technique which plays on the networks of American influences and which was then adapted by the GNA.
For several observers, the ambiguity of American politics is due to the activism of these networks of influences. Despite the official positions of the State Department, Washington again takes up, in July 2019, the defense of the Libyan marshal, it prevents a UN decision condemning Khalifa Haftar for bombing a migrant center in Tripoli, making more than 40 victims.

Washington is interested again

Washington seemed to lose interest for a moment in the Libyan conflict, the consequences of which affect Europe more than the United States. But in March, she vetoed the appointment of Algerian Ramtan Lamamra as successor to Ghassan Salamé, the special envoy who resigned from the UN. In recent weeks, as Khalifa Haftar is losing ground, the Americans seem to have changed sides… to support the GNA, the government of national unity based in Tripoli. He also said he was ready to grant them a military base in Libya.

Libyan analysts do not dissociate this Western duplicity from the importance of everyone's interest in Libya. They recall that Washington has no fixed position and that in Syria it abandoned the Kurds in the end. These Libyans claim that Washington and the other great powers "  know very well that no camp in Libya will win the war and behave accordingly  ".

To read also: " There is a geopolitical duplication in the Libyan theater of what happened in Syria "

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