Tripoli urges Trump to prevent Hafer supporters from interfering in Libyan affairs

Donald Trump
File Reuters

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Libya’s internationally-recognized government on Friday condemned its rival Khalifa Hafer as a “military dictator with ambitions” and urged US President Donald Trump to stop foreign support for his month-long assault on Tripoli.

“The supporters of a handful of US allies are turning Libya into a proxy battleground and risking a war with global repercussions and a new wave of mass immigration to Europe,” said Fayez al-Sarraj, head of Libya’s national reconciliation government based in Tripoli.

Libya’s eastern army led by Hafater, allied to a rival government in the east, launched a campaign against Tripoli in early April, saying the government was under the control of its so-called terrorists but failed to penetrate the city’s defenses.

The UN Security Council on Friday called on all parties to the conflict in Libya to abide by a ceasefire and return to mediation led by the United Nations after the council received a statement on the situation in Libya during a closed session, said Diane Tranceia Dajani, Indonesia’s UN envoy and UN Security Council president this month.

Sarraj said in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, said that hundreds of Libyans were killed and forced more than 40 thousand to leave their homes and that “hundreds of thousands” could flee to Europe.

Sarraj wrote “national reconciliation government is fighting a military dictator and his aspirations receive government money and weapons competition from foreign players looking to achieve personal narrow interests at the expense of Libya.”

“To prevent a bloody civil war with global repercussions, Libya needs the United States to help prevent other countries from interfering in its affairs.

“I still hope that President Trump will succeed in the failed former presidents … Libyans will not accept another military dictatorship like Gaddafi.”

Al-Seraj launched his appeal a day after the Al-Wefaq government asked 40 foreign companies, including France’s Total Oil, to renew their work permits or stop their operations in a move aimed at economic pressure on Europe to halt the Haftar attack.

While Al-Seraj enjoys the support of the United Nations, Hafater is supported by two US allies, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which have helped train his soldiers.

France has backed Hafer as a means of fighting militants in a country that has been in a state of chaos since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The National Reconciliation Government denies Hafer’s accusations of links to terrorism and says its allies, not Hafer, expelled the Islamic state’s organization from the coastal city of Sirte on the Mediterranean in 2016.

But it is not clear to what extent Al-Sarraj’s appeal will be heard in Washington.

Referring to his understanding of the motives of the attack, Trump called in April the commander of Libya’s national army and discussed “current efforts to combat terrorism and the need for peace and stability in Libya,” the White House said.

Trump “acknowledged the significant role played by Marshal Khalifa Hafer in fighting terrorism and protecting Libya’s oil resources and discussed a common vision of Libya’s transition to a stable democratic political system,” the statement said.

The United Nations failed to broker a cease-fire after the surprise attack. UN officials say her special envoy, Ghassan Salama, has remained largely in Libya, but the staff of the UN mission has been significantly reduced.

European countries, including Italy and France, are paying close attention to Libya, both because of its natural resources and its location as a major departure point for migrants attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean.

The lines of fighting around Tripoli have seen little change last week and the fighting has declined since the start of Ramadan.

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