Libya’s Haftar ‘betting on military solution’

Army commander of UN-recognised government says it is not clear how a peace deal with rivals can be reached.

Khalifa Hifter
Haftar said he would abide by a peace deal but it was not clear how one could be reached [AP]

The military chief of Libya’s UN-recognised government has expressed doubt about UN-backed talks in Morocco aimed at ending the country’s political split and said that he is “betting on a military solution” if a deal remains elusive.

General Khalifa Haftar’s comments in a TV interview on Tuesday underscored the obstacles to any agreement between rival governments in Libya.

Haftar, who commands forces loyal to the Tobruk government, separately told the Associated Press news agency that he does not oppose negotiations outright.

He said he would abide by decisions of his government, but said it was not clear how the political rivals could reach a deal.

He would not agree to any ceasefire with armed groups, he said.

“Then the military solution is a must because it is decisive … when we are forced to, when we see our homeland torn apart as it is happening now, between militias and terrorists, we resort to a military solution. We are betting on the military solution,” Haftar said.

Haftar said he believes his forces could win such a battle even though they currently control only a small area of Libya and no major cities.

Air strikes

In the latest violence, forces loyal to Haftar carried out air strikes on Wednesday near the capital Tripoli, which is controlled by his rivals, officials said.

On Monday, Haftar met Jordan’s King Abdullah and senior military officials, who gave Haftar their backing.

The international community is pushing for a deal, fearing Libya’s chaos could destabilise its neighbours.

Libya effectively split in half last year when forces allied to Haftar attempted to drive rival militias out of Tripoli and were defeated, leaving Libya’s internationally recognised government and elected parliament confined to the eastern cities of Tobruk and Bayda.

The rival legally installed government, led by the Libya Dawn coalition, controls the capital Tripoli.

The two sides have been negotiating in Morocco to end months of fighting, the bloodiest since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Bernadino Leon, the UN envoy, has visited both sides in Tripoli and Tobruk, where he has proposed keeping Libya’s elected parliament and setting up a unity government of independents.

A new round of talks is due to begin on Wednesday.

Benghazi, a port city on the Mediterranean Sea, is among the places witnessing intense fighting between armed factions [Reuters]
Benghazi, a port city on the Mediterranean Sea, is among the places witnessing intense fighting between armed factions [Reuters]
Source: News Agencies