Libya FM urges Italy to pressure Haftar backers - The Libyan Report

Libya FM urges Italy to pressure Haftar backers

Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Sayala has asked Italy to put pressure on the countries backing General Khalifa Haftar’s bombardment on Tripoli, reports the Libya Observer.

Egypt, along with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have offered monetary, military and intelligence support to the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA) and de facto ruler of the Tobruk government in the east of the country who has been bombarding Tripoli for over two months now.

His offensive has so far been unable to dislodge the government there and his army remains on the outskirts of the city.

The three countries support Haftar on the basis that he is fighting a legitimate war against terror and that he is a defence against Islamist parties in the region. In May the Libyan House of Representatives voted to ban the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood and classified it a terrorist organisation.

Earlier today Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi reiterated his support for Libya’s LNA in the fight to eliminate terrorist groups in Libya.

Read: Egypt sends more arms to Libya’s Haftar

Some 600 people have been killed, a further 3,000 injured and upwards of 80,000 displaced in Haftar’s attack on the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), whose headquarters are in the capital.

Italy has reaffirmed that the GNA is the legitimate government of Libya, however the European country maintains close ties with Egypt despite the torture and murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni. The UAE is also a key political and strategic ally of Italy.

In general, the EU expresses support for Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli government and cooperated on migration and the attempt to stem the flow of people leaving Libya for Europe. After Gaddafi was killed during the 2011 uprising, people smuggling networks have thrived in the power vacuum.

However, Rome and Paris disagree on how to navigate the fighting in Libya. In April France came under fire for blocking a draft EU resolution condemning Haftar and asking him to retreat.

Though Paris has not admitted it publicly, analysts have pointed out that France maintains close ties to Haftar to protect its interest in the oil business, and its political influence in the North African country.