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Haftar finds a friend in Russia

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LIBYAPROSPECT – London

The Kremlin came out to support the commander of the army of the House of Representatives (HoR), General Khalifa Haftar, in the Libyan crisis, they were reported to say that Haftar must have a role in the leadership of Libya.

According to Bloomberg, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Gennady Gatilov, has criticized the United Nations special envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, for throwing his support behind some political forces more than the others.

Gatilov’s recent comments on Libya marked the strongest endorsement of Haftar, by Russia yet. This statement can lead up to Libya’s stability being in jeopardy and could complicate the situation further.

Gatilov said that the UN-led is ineffective and not working. Bloomberg quotes him saying “we believe that the Libyans have to find a compromise on his participation in the new Libyan leadership.”

Russia, having not intervened in Libya for its political reasons, has now become more actively involved, this comes after Russia took an active role in Syria, by providing military support to the Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad.

Gatilov praised Haftar for his efforts to fight terrorist; he said that “he is doing a lot to fight Islamic State terrorists and help the government restore control of oil production.” He added that “Haftar is, of course, a leading political and military figure.”

According to Bloomberg, Kobler is favoring the Tripoli government in the stand-off with Haftar, which they believe is the reason for the gridlock between both parties. Because, the Libyan HoR in the eastern city of Tobruk is loyal with Haftar whereas the west is in support of Fayez, Al-Sarraj’s government in Tripoli.

Kobler should abstain from efforts to strike separate deals with part of the Libyan political establishment behind the back of other influential players,” Gatilov said. He added that “hence the lack of interest by representatives of the eastern regions in talking to him — it’s obvious that such a situation doesn’t help to advance the political process in Libya.”

This comes after Haftar visited the Kremlin twice in the past six months, with his attempt to gain support from Putin. Russia will now be printing money for a branch of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) on the eastern side of Libya, where Haftar is most popular, it will also be supplying him with military experts to hone and refine his tactics.

Russia will also strictly oversee the UN arms embargo on Libya. Gatilov also spoke critically of the government in Tripoli, that “despite its international recognition, it hasn’t become a genuinely national government body,” Gatilov said. He stated that “it can’t start to work properly because its control extends to the only very limited territory.”

However, Russia will maintain contact with all factions in Libya, including Al-Sarraj’s government in Tripoli.

Haftar now enjoys the support of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and his most powerful ally now, Russia. The question here is, will Russia do the same as it has done in Syria? Only time will tell.