(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former Libyan army general Khalifa Haftar, who has set himself up as a warrior against Islamist terrorism and who some see as their savior, has plans to meet with Israeli officials on a visit in Amman, an Arab newspaper reported.
The London-based daily Alquds Alarabi reported on Tuesday that informed sources said that Haftar secretly visited Egypt twice last week and received 400 various weapons for his forces in Libya.
Meanwhile, the president of Libya’s elected parliament has proposed appointing Haftar as top military commander, parliament’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
“Mr. Aguila Saleh has proposed to appoint Haftar,” spokesman Farraj Hashem told Reuters. “The House of Representatives supports this.”
He said the decree still needed to be signed by Saleh.
Critics say Haftar sees himself as Libya’s version of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former military man.
Certainly, Haftar misses no opportunity to praise Sisi. His war planes joined Egyptian jets bombing suspected Islamic State targets in Libya after the jihadist group released a video showing the beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians.
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Libya’s official Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni on Tuesday criticized the United States, Britain and European Union for failing to supply arms to his forces as they battle those of a rival government.
The tough comments come a day after Libya’s elected parliament, allied to Thinni, suspended its participation in UN-sponsored talks to try to end the power struggle between the two rival administrations and assemblies.
Thinni has been confined to a rump state in the east since an opposing faction called Libya Dawn seized the capital, Tripoli, last year, reinstating an old assembly known as the GNC and setting up a rival government.
Thinni and the House of Representatives, also based in the east, enjoy the recognition of world powers but anti-Western sentiment has been building up. Many normal people demand military support in the power struggle with Tripoli, four years after the NATO-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.
“Unfortunately, the international community and especially the United States, Britain and the European Union have refused to arm the Libyan army,” Thinni told pan-Arab channel Al-Arabiya.
“Libya Dawn is part of militant Islamists that get weapons, ammunition and supplies from all over the world,” he said. “But America and Britain have other ideas against the interest of the Libyan people.”
Libya is still under a UN arms embargo dating from the 2011 uprising, though the country is awash with weapons and dominated by armed factions.
Thinni has been facing pressure from Haftar who has merged his forces with army troops in the east to fight Islamist groups. While the alliance has managed to win back some territory in Benghazi, Haftar has drawn criticism for calling in air strikes on civilian airports and seaports.
Frustrated with hardships in the east, where the conflict has made gas, electricity and medicines scarce, protesters have demanded Thinni quit and hand power to a military council headed by Haftar.
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