In a speech at the Stimson Center today, US Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones sought to downplay the attempted military coup in Libya, arguing that Gen. Khalifa Hifter never said he “wants to be in charge,” defending it as an anti-terrorism move.
Jones insisted the recent events were just a result of long-standing incidents, and defended Hifter’s move as not one against political Islamists, but against “terrorists” like the ones that attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi.
That seems directly in contrast of what Gen. Hifter himself said about his “Operation Dignity,” which insisted it targeted parliament specifically because of the growing Islamist influence there, and just hours after an Islamist-backed prime minister announced his new cabinet. Prime Minister Ahmed Mateeq has refused to step down.
Jones went on to complain of the mischaracterization of Gen. Hifter’s takeover of parliament, saying he just wanted parliament to step aside because of its “failures” and that there was no other mechanism in place to oust them from power. She said Mateeq’s government was the “final straw” for Hifter, and forced his hand.