Officials from Libya’s UN-backed Tobruk parliament, and prominent allies of the head of their army, Gen. Khalifa Hifter, are expressing hope that the election of Donald Trump will lead to a shift in US priorities in their country, seeing themselves as more natural allies to Trump than is the “unity government.”
Gen. Hifter was a high-ranking general in the Gadhafi government in the 1980s, but was disavowed and became a top figure in a CIA-funded insurgency. When the insurgency fell apart, Hifter moved to Virginia, but returned to Libya with eyes on seizing power amid the NATO-imposed regime change.
During the campaign, Trump was critical of US policy in Libya, saying the world would be better off if Gadhafi was still in power. With Gadhafi dead, Gen. Hifter’s allies seem to hope they can brand him as the sort of anti-Islamist strongman that would fit neatly into that role.
The Tobruk parliament was quick to congratulate Trump on his victory, and members said they believe that the US decision to stop supporting them and start backing the “unity government” was largely a decision made by the Democrats, and one which the new Republican administration might reverse.
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