Libya’s Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha has called on Cyprus to refuse the passport applications of General Khalifa Haftar’s four sons, after it emerged that they were applying for citizenship there.
“Our investigations and intelligence say Khalid, Saddam, Al-Seddiq and Belqasim Haftar have all applied for passports in Cyprus, thus we call on you to halt this process as those persons are involved in different lawsuits in Libya, including robbing Central Bank of Libya in Benghazi among other crimes,” an official statement from Bashagha read.
The letter added that the Interior Ministry would appeal to Interpol to implement orders of the Libyan Public Prosecutor’s Office and arrest the four men in Cyprus.
Bashagha acknowledged that writing such a public letter was not usual procedure, but stated that given the urgency of the situation, the Interior Ministry had decided to make the appeal directly.
Renewed violence has rocked Libya this month after General Haftar launched the “Flood of Dignity” campaign on regions in the west of the country, including the capital Tripoli. The move was widely condemned by the international community, who warned that it could plunge the country into active civil war once again.
Two of Haftar’s sons, Khalid and Saddam, are captains in their father’s self-styled army. Saddam is also accused of having transferred hundreds of millions of dollars from the Central Bank of Libya to unknown destinations in 2017, aided by the infantry brigade he leads.
At least 254 people have been killed, and more than 1,288 have been injured in the violence; tens of thousands have been displaced as Haftar’s forces advanced on suburbs around the city centre, forcing residents to flee.
The UN-backed Libyan National Authority has pushed back against Haftar’s troops in the south of Tripoli this week, with shops reopening after days of fighting.
The latest victory could signal the end of Haftar’s immediate plans to install himself as ruler of the whole country and ease a dangerous situation that has divided and confounded foreign governments with an interest in Libya.
Haftar visited stalwart supporter Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in Cairo last week; the eastern warlord is also backed by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel, with France and Russia frequently accused of quietly supporting the Benghazi-based government, despite publicly endorsing UN resolutions.
Last week, Bashagha informed officials that they were to “stop dealing with France”, especially on issues pertaining to security agreements and military training, citing the French government’s support “of the criminal Haftar”.