Retired Libyan General Khalifa Haftar has disclosed that he consults with the authorities in Egypt under the leadership of coup president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. During such discussions, he receives intelligence data from the Egyptian regime. The news was revealed on Monday in an interview with the government-owned Al-Ahram newspaper in Cairo.
“We deal at the leadership level [with Egypt] with a high degree of transparency and clarity,” claimed the general who, although “retired” has just been promoted to field marshal. “We consult among ourselves on all issues of common interest and we cooperate without limit for the sake of our countries’ interests.”
He pointed out that countries affected by terrorism provide his forces with intelligence gathered through the use of advanced monitoring technology. “Foremost among these countries are Egypt and France.”
The data that Haftar and his officers receive covers the activities of terrorist groups and their locations, combat capabilities, funding, leadership and movements. “We also find out about their communications and those who collaborate with them,” he explained. “This is important for us as we plan our attacks.” No attacks are launched until full reconnaissance has been carried out to determine which targets are to be hit.
When asked about his recent visit to Cairo, where he met Sisi’s brother-in-law, Egypt’s Chief of Staff General Mahmoud Hijazi, Haftar described him as “an intimate friend who is known to be calm, wise and noble.” He added that Hijazi exerts considerable effort to reduce the tension in Libya and deal with the crisis.
“We addressed some of the points included in the political agreement pertaining to the relationship between the military institution and the executive, and our anxiety not to embroil it in the political conflict over power,” claimed Haftar. “This is especially important given that we are going through an extraordinary stage during which the army plays a pivotal role in bolstering stability. We have found General Hijazi to be fully appreciative of this position.”
The Libyan officer used the interview to condemn the Muslim Brotherhood and claimed that any organisation with an armed wing is a “terrorist” organisation. The Brotherhood, he said, is in the forefront of those organisations that rely on an armed militia in order to impose itself by force. “Hence, it is a fully fledged terrorist organisation, and the people would never accept it as a partner in the political process so long as it is like this.” The irony of the leader of an armed militia saying this was lost on Haftar, who was no doubt setting out to please Sisi and his regime.
Furthermore, he also attacked UN envoy Martin Kobler, claiming that he intrudes into sensitive issues that have nothing to do with his task as head of the UN Support Mission in Libya. According to Haftar, the UN official requested a meeting with him to discuss the structure of the Libyan army and he “crossed the line” when he demanded a discussion of the dimensions of the visit by the Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Abd Al-Razaq Al-Nazuri to the city of Zintan.
In an interview with Russia’s Sputnik news agency on Sunday, Haftar said that the Egyptian army bears the biggest burden in protecting Libya’s borders thanks to its capabilities. These, he insisted, cannot be compared with what the Libyans have, either in terms of military and security personnel or weapons and technology.
Meanwhile, on Monday it was reported that Kobler met with the Head of the Libyan Presidential Council, Fayiz Al-Sarraj, and the Speaker of the Libyan Parliament, Akilah Salih, in Cairo over the weekend. Local sources said that Al-Sarraj, who left Cairo for New York on Sunday to take part in the UN General Assembly, discussed the latest developments in Libya, particularly in the aftermath of the seizure by forces loyal to Haftar of the country’s oil crescent region.
The sources added that Al-Sarraj demanded the swift formation of a national accord government which would then seek a vote of confidence from the parliament. That same issue was discussed by Al-Sarraj with Chief of Staff Hijazi, who has been tasked by Sisi to chair the Egyptian committee looking into the crisis in Libya.
It is now expected that a meeting will be held in Cairo in the next week or so which will see Al-Sarraj, Salih and Hijazi getting together, once agreement has been reached on the conditions needed to overcome the current areas of dispute, especially with regard to the formation of the government.
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