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Haftar hopes to receive military aid from Kremlin

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LIBYAPROSPECT – London

The commander of the army of the House of Representatives (HoR), General Khalifa Haftar, visited Moscow last week, which makes it his second visit to Russia this year. He met with senior political figures and military officials, including the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and the Defence Minister, Sergei Shoygu.

Al-Araby website reported that with the recent victory of Donald Trump in America, who openly said that he adores Putin of Russia, leads to a shared understanding and a new alliance between Trump and Putin. With the cooperation between the Egyptian President, Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi, makes Russia more inclined to support Haftar. It is believed that Haftar’s request from the Russians is a military support in the forms of arms supplies and training.

Russia has never got involved in the Libyan conflict, unlike its involvement in Syria. Russia has not used its power of veto to block any UN Security-Council resolutions on Libya or any other form of participation. However, if Russia opts to get involved at this stage and become a right actor in the Libyan conflict by offering military and logistical support to Haftar, then the power vacuum will only worsen, it will be a game-changer in an already prolonged Libyan conflict.

Haftar who has tried multiple times to derail the peace talks led by the UN has now a new strategy to thwart it. He wants to get Russia to change its foreign policy about Libya and get it to break the UN imposed arms embargo on the export of weapons to Libya and to provide his army with advanced weaponry, military advisors, and training support.

If Russia does break the arms embargo on Libya and provides the support for Haftar, he will effectively be more influential and can then gain a total grip and control of Libya – a goal openly backed by Egypt and the UAE.

Haftar reportedly told Lavrov that “we hope we will eliminate terrorism with your help in the nearest future,” however the official spokesman for Russia, Dimitry Peskov has declined to confirm whether such military support was forthcoming.

Haftar’s supporters have openly come out to celebrate the success of the USA’s president-elect, Donald Trump. They perceive it as good news for them; they believe that Trump will cooperate with both Putin and Al-Sisi of Egypt about Libya, and will be tolerant of any active role for Russia in the prolonged Libyan conflict.

His supporters believe that the Russian active in Libya will lead the military and political support for Haftar and his army. Only time will tell what Haftar is scheming on, and the effect this will have on the peace process. Will Haftar’s efforts end up derailing the peace process?