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  • Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz meets with Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar in Riyadh.

    Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz meets with Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar in Riyadh. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 April 2019

"Haftar would not be a player today without the foreign support he has received."

During Libya's General Khalifa Haftar's visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia late last month, he was offered tens of millions of dollars for a planned operation to launch an offensive on Libya's capital, Tripoli. 

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A meeting, which preceded the general's military campaign on April 4, was held between Haftar and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Kingdom advisers boasted of the generosity of their offer.

The offer was accepted by Haftar and, according to senior advisers to the Saudi government, the funds were to be used to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders, recruitment and payment of military personnel, and other military expenses. 

According to the executive director of the Arab Center of Washington, DC, Khalil Jahshan, "the visit of General Haftar to the Kingdom and his meeting with both King Salman and the Crown Prince" was a result of Saudi Arabia wanting to "up its participation in the conflict in Libya."

In Libya, a conflict has been growing between the general's Libyan National Army (LNA) and the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-backed uprising that led to the death of former Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi. 

The United Nations, the United States, the G7 bloc, and the EU have all called on the LNA to agree to a ceasefire and put a stop to its offensive against the GNA. The U.N. has reported that the conflict has caused 75 deaths, 320 injuries, and some 9,500 displacement cases. A day after the attack, Haftar was visited by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who tried to convince the general of abandoning his offensive and allow the U.N. to take over the peace process. 

With the amount of support Haftar has received in recent months, it seems as though Gutteres' suggestions fell on deaf ears as he described leaving Libya "with a heavy heart and deeply concerned."

Supporters of Haftar's offensive include Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, who prioritize curbing the efforts of Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Haftar would not be a player today without the foreign support he has received," Wolfman Lacher, a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs and Libya expert, said.

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