A delegation of senior US officials, including Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland, met with the leader of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army, Gen. Khalifa Hafter, who is in the process of trying to occupy Tripoli during his latest attempted coup.
Officially, the US is backing Hafter’s enemies, the UN-endorsed unity government, though at times the Trump Administration has expressed support for Hafter’s future role in Libya, raising questions over what side the US will ultimately land on.
The State Department didn’t seem to want to admit that this is an issue, however, and instead said that they were talking with Hafter primarily to express “serious concern” about Russian mercenaries supporting Hafter.
A former CIA asset, Hafter has been making the rounds internationally, including visiting Russia, to try to drum up support for his military and his ultimate takeover of Libya. Hafter is also broadly supported by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt’s junta, all of whom prefer a Hafter dictatorship to an election that is almost certain to give Muslim Brotherhood figures some power.