Bad vs Worse in Libya

There’s little to choose between the two sides battling for control of Tripoli

By Abdel Bari Atwan

There is only one explanation for the telephone call Donald Trump made last week to Khalifa Haftar. It means the US president has decided to adopt the self-styled Marshal as Libya’s new leader, and side fully with the Saudi-Egyptian-Emirati camp that has been backing him and his current assault aimed at taking the capital Tripoli from the rival Turkish/Qatari camp. This constitutes a grave development in the Libyan crisis, whose consequences we will witness in the coming few days and weeks.

Haftar now has the support of both the US and Russian president in addition to France, and the days of the UN-backed government of Fayez Sarraj now look severely numbered. International legality counts for nothing when the two superpowers unite behind a commander who defies it and wants to pull it up by the roots.

The White House statement about this one-to-one telephone conversation made a point of saying Trump and Haftar had a “shared vision of Libya’s future” and commending  the latter’s record in “combating terrorism” and “securing Libya’s oil resources.”

This open and unabashed American backing explains why the British-authored draft resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire was held up in the UN Security Council. It also indicates that Haftar’s offensive aimed at taking control of Tripoli is set to escalate. Egyptian, French, Emirati and possibly even American warplanes may also play a greater part in it to provide Haftar’s forces with air cover and accelerate their attempt to overcome the coalition defending the capital.

As far as this paper is concerned, they are all Haftar. Both sides are ‘Nato rebels’ who were partners in destroying Libya and changing its regime, inflicting death and destruction on the country, and looting its resources to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

There is little difference in our view between Haftar and his adversaries. Whichever side emerges victorious from this war will end up standing in the American Trench. Anyone doubting this does not know either Haftar, who was trained in CIA camps, or Sarraj, who was installed with American support under a UN umbrella.

Those who backed the NATO bombing that killed 30,000 Libyans, a regime-change designed to serve the interests of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and the displacement of millions of their compatriots under the slogan of a ‘revolution’ fabricated by Bernard-Henri Levy and his allies, do not have the interests of the Libyan people at heart.

They are all the same to us, and we are not prepared to choose between bad and worse. We side with Libya’s honest patriots, who were subjected to the biggest deception in their history. The Libyan people are certain to turn against both sides once they are able to catch their breath and patch up their wounds.

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