US and Abu Dhabi aid Gen. Haftar’s bid to stabilize Libyan rule by ousting Islamists

The DEBKA account below conflicts with this account from the WSJ, Libya Deploys Islamist Militias Against Rogue General. You decide what is going on. Ted Belman

DEBKAfile Special Report May 19, 2014, 6:33 PM (IDT)

Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s assaults on the Libyan parliament in Tripoli Sunday and Islamist strongholds in Benghazi last week, at the head of a group of former Libyan soldiers and assorted militias, has won a certain amount of backing from the US and United Arab Emirates, in the hope that his campaign will finally bring stable rule to the chaos-ridden country.

Three prime ministers have come and gone since Qaddafi’s one-man rule was toppled in 2011. Hafter has made his objective clear, blaming the havoc on extremist Islamists “who have held the country to ransom.” DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that, while unidentified American entities are supplying the Hafter force with funds and intelligence, sources in Abu Dhabi are providing them with weapons, or the price of their purchase on Libya’s flourishing arms market. These two outsiders seemingly collaborate.

How far the Obama administration and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan actually support Hafter’s cause is hard to pin down. It will most likely depend on how successful he is in his bid to start carving out the shape of stable government rid of Islamist extremists in the northern Libyan region between the two key towns of Tripoli and Benghazi.

The most dangerous Islamist militia in his sights is Ansar al-Sharia and its leader Abu Khattala, whom US intelligence recently concluded carried out the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 and murdered Ambassador Christ Stevens and three of his CIA staffers.

(Exclusive details of the Obama administration’s plan to capture Abu Khattala alive or dead were first revealed in the last DEBKA Weekly 635 on May 16.)

Khalifa Hafter’s campaign to remove the Islamist militias which hold Libya in their grip may or may not be directly linked to the US plan against Ansar al-Sharia and its leader. But it will in any case be useful, in as far as it evicts this and other extremist brigades from their strongholds at the heart of ruling institutions in Libya’s main cities.

In their attack Friday, Hafter loyalist forces, firing Grad surface rockets, truck-mounted antiaircraft guns and mortars, inflicted heavy casualties on the Islamist forces controlling Benghazi.

Sunday, with the fighting still raging in Benghazi, another Hafter force struck 650 km to the east, to overrun parliament in Tripoli, which he accused of being strangled by extremist Islamist entities

In Tripoli, Hafter’s forces gained important support from the large Al-Saiqa force, made up of former commandos and paratroops of the Libyan army, and the al-Qaaqaa Brigade, formed by Western Libyan soldiers who defected from the army.

They put the lawmakers to flight and replaced them with a 60-member constituent’s assembly.

Whatever he calls it, Hafter is therefore leading a military revolt in Libya. His spokesman Sunday denied that the operation was a coup and insisted the force was “fighting by the people’s choice.”

Ministers and high officials of Libya’s government, which stopped functioning altogether after the last prime minister fled last year, refused Monday to recognize the new ruling body and called on Islamist militias in Tripoli to go to war on their new would-be masters.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources are reserving judgment on the chances of Gen. Hafter and his allies succeeding in their campaign, or how long they can count on US and Gulf support. The situation will remain uncertain so long as Libya’s most powerful militias sit on the fence until they decide which side it is worth their while to join.

Libya’s political landscape is dominated by 17 large, well-armed militias, most of them tribal or regional units that broke away from the army after Qaddafi’s ouster.  But there is also a swarm of small armed groups, which control fiefdoms in urban districts and small hamlets. Their loyalties are hazy.

The strongest armed group of them all is the Misrata Brigade, which rules the port of that name in northern Libya west of Tripoli. This brigade is a coalition of 200 small militias; it commands 40,000 fighters, 800 tanks, a self-propelled artillery unit and 2,000 armored vehicles.  Misrata has not so far intervened in the fighting in Benghazi and Tripoli.

May 20, 2014 | 2 Comments »

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  1. yamit82 Said:

    The Red Line and the Rat Line

    an interesting expose.

    Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going. ‘The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,’ the former intelligence official said.

    I think this was after banghazi and obama was threatened by the russians to be connected to the gas attacks and the supply of the jihadis. Notice that all the players: saudi, qatar, obama and sisi became “anti jihadi”
    I think the combination of the the events at benghazi and the russian intelligence source supplying the british lab with the warning evidence spooked obama and the need became great to create distance between himself and jihadis and even the egyptian coups. Obama was basically being threatened with being a war criminal.
    I also suspect that Obama and the GCC wanted israel at that point to help in the war against assad because the US was not going in . Obama may have been angry that Israel did not do more to join the plan. It is interesting to note that “going in” was completely on the books for obama and only the fear of exposure prevented it going forward. that is another reason why I believe that the goals are the same but the events leashed the US plan.

    The UK defence staff who relayed the Porton Down findings to the joint chiefs were sending the Americans a message, the former intelligence official said: ‘We’re being set up here.’

    It would not be far fetched to believe that Obama was set up at benghazi by the russians who were aware of what he was doing and created a situation to backfire and expose Obama. Putin was head of KGB

  2. Ted!!!

    The Red Line and the Rat Line

    Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdo?an and the Syrian rebels

    In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.?? Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

    Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. READ MORE

    ‘Libya victim of West criminal policy’