In a short interview with BBC, Khalifa Haftar, the renegade general who turned-cloak during the Gaddafi Regime turned Chiefs of Staff of Libya’s rival Tobruk based House of Representatives (HoR) assembly reiterated his gratitude for Egypt and the United Arab Emirate’s financing and military support in his campaign targeting Libya’s Tripoli based government.
Haftar, who returned to Libya during the uprising and aided other rebel factions in the ouster of long-term autocrat Muammar al-Gadhafi re-ignited country wide clashes when gunmen under his command attempted to force the General National Council (GNC) which at the time served as Libya’s sole parliamentary body.
The armed attempt failed and Abdullah al-Thinni, who at the time was the Prime Minister of the GNC had condemned Haftar’s attemped at an armed take over.
Haftar returned to prominence following largely boycotted suspect elections in which less than 20 percent of Libya took created the HoR to rival the GNC with al-Thinni at its helm.
The HoR, failing to win over any of Libya’s power brokering militias which remained adamant that the GNC, which was founded in 2011 with the assistance of NATO and the UN, was still the legitimate ruling body of the country.
With most of the country refusing its authority, the HoR and al-Thinni made peace with Haftar to begin a ground assault on Eastern GNC loyal cities (primarily Benghazi) while resorting to air-strikes targeting various infrastructural and oil transportation targets to the country’s west.
The Zintan militias have made little progress on the ground since escalating Libya’s internal conflict in August as Dawn Alliance forces most of which from the western city of Misrata, though Haftar in November vowed that his personal army would force the rest of the county into submission.
Despite heavy condemnation from the UN and later the United States State Department, after Haftar’s airmen killed crewmen aboard a chartered Greek vessel containing oil, Haftar has refused to abide by a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations, threatening to undermine the integrity of ongoing peace talks.
Haftar’s first admittance to Egypt and the UAE’S assistance came on Nov. 29 of last year when he had admitted in a plea for European assistance that “Egypt, Algeria, the Emirates, and Saudi Arabia have sent us (the Zintan militias under his control) arms and ammunitions.”
Speculations regarding Egypt and the UAE’s involvement in funding the conflict in Libya emerged in August when warplanes belonging to the two countries assisted Haftar’s forces in conducting airstrikes against GNC loyal Dawn Alliance positions in the Tripoli International Airport.
The speculations were confirmed when two Egyptian security sources came out to local media outlets that the strikes were part of a plan which would see Egypt assist in weakening the Dawn Alliance and other GNC loyal groups before a group of Zintan militiamen trained in Egypt would join the assault later on.
One of the sources was quoted saying “This is a battle for Egypt, not Libya. Egypt was the first country in the region to warn against terrorism and it is also the first to fight it.”
Though the HoR’s air commander Tareq al-Garrouchi had told the Turkish state owned Anadolu Agency that the “Reports about the participation of Egyptian warplanes in the attacks are untrue,” purporting instead that the planes were Egyptian owned but “rented” to the pilots inside which were of Libyan nationality.
Reports that the purportedly Haftarist warplanes conducting strikes in Benghazi and later Tripoli’s Mitiga airport had paint scheme’s that matched Egyptian and UAE aircraft, unlike the paint schemes of the GNC operated jets left over from the Gadhafi regime.
The administration of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has made no secret of its attempts to uproot existing Muslim Brotherhood related groups in the region. Beginning with the ouster of the country’s first democratically elected President Mohammad Morsi in 2013, Egypt began a domestic crackdown on the group which has led to the deaths off thousands either in protests or massive state executions.
One of Egypt’s closest allies, the UAE has also began taking steps to purge its country of any groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, going as far as to list American and English NGO’s sharing in the groups ideology as terrorist organizations, a move criticized by both the White House and Downing Street officials.
Egypt has gone as far as to create a one kilometer wide buffer zone between Sinai and the Refah border crossing connecting the peninsula to the Gaza strip under the pretenses of a narrative it shared with Israel yet neither of which provide proof of that tied Hamas to rising insurgency and armament in Sinai.
The economically strapped nation has spent millions on home demolitions and relocations to distance itself from its neighboring Muslim Brotherhood affiliated neighbor in hopes that the ideology’s effectiveness in own boundaries would diminish.
It seems as though Egypt is willing to arm, train and engage while letting its wealthy allies the UAE and Saudi Arabia, both of which view the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to their long-standing monarchies, fund Haftar’s attempt to rid Libya of its but Muslim Brotherhood dominant GNC.Last Mod: 02 Şubat 2015, 13:29