US Reveals Support for Former CIA Asset Hafter in Libya

White House says Hafter has important counter-terrorism role

Whether you think of Khalifa Hafter as a former Gadhafi-era general, a long-standing CIA asset, or the leader of multiple failed coups d’etats who is now the self-described “Field Marshal” of his own self-described “Libyan National Army” (LNA), he is a bit unseemly for most nations to openly back. The big exception to this is the Egyptian junta, which seems to view him as an ideological ally.

The Trump Administration is also surprisingly comfortable with its support for him as well, with the White House announcing that Trump had phoned Hafter on Monday to talk about joint counter-terrorism efforts.

This is a particularly odd time for the US to be acknowledging direct coordination, as it comes amid Hafter’s latest coup attempt, with his LNA attacking the capital city of Tripoli and trying to oust the Libyan government of national unity who the US had been recognizing as Libya’s legitimate government up until the past week or so. Pompeo was still sharply criticizing Hafter last week, even if indications were this didn’t extend to UN Security Council calls for a ceasefire.

Now, the White House statement says Trump “recognized Field Marshal Hafter’s significant role in fighting terrorism, and securing Libya’s oil resources,” and that they discussed a “shared vision” for the future of Libya.

Now, of course, the White House presented the future of Libya as a “stable, democratic political system,” but it isn’t a secret that Hafter has tried to oust every democratically elected parliament Libya has had since Gadhafi. Nor is it a secret that the US favored the Egyptian coup for bringing “stability” over the democratically elected Morsi government. Democratic, in this region, just means the US starts calling the junta head a “president” as soon as he’s finished seizing power and violently purging his opponents.

Hafter’s “anti-terror” efforts in Libya have largely involved attacking parliaments that he felt were too Islamist, while his securing of oil resources has mostly involved attacking valuable oil facilities along the coast. While his previous failed coups ended with him still scheming, and at times giving himself field promotions, this latest push seems to have left him anointed as part of the US vision.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.