Haftar Visits Cairo Amid Libya’s Neighbouring Countries Meeting

Libya’s General Khalifa Haftar visits Cairo to discuss the latest developments on the Libyan arena.

Khalifa Haftar met with Egyptian Cheif of Staff Lieutenant-General Mahmoud Hegazi where the two men discussed the results of meetings in Cairo between Egyptian officials and different Libyan powers and groups.

Haftar’s visit comes at the same time where Egypt hosts the 10th session of Libya’s neighbouring countries meeting.

The meeting, which follows those previously held in Algiers, Tunis and Niger, will examine the latest developments of the situation in Libya and the participants will also exchange views about all the forms of support which might be provided by the neighbouring countries to the efforts aiming at encouraging the Libyan parties to reach an agreement that could end the crisis.

The meeting will be attended by the foreign ministers of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Chad, and Niger, and the head of the UN Special Mission to Libya, Martin Kobler, Arab League’s Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, African Union Special Envoy in Libya, Jakaya Kikwete and representatives of international organizations.

It is noteworthy that Egypt’s Army Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazi met with the head of the UN Special Mission to Libya Martin Kobler last week.

The meeting tackled the updates in the Libyan political arena and ways to achieve reconciliation between Libyan entities to restore security and stability there.

Last week, Hegazi also met with the Chairman of the Libyan presidential council in the Government of National Accord (known as the UN baked government), Fayez Al-Serraj, to discuss possible solutions to the situation in Libya, according to a statement by the Egyptian Armed Forces’ media office.

Al-Serraj also met with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to discuss the recent developments on the Libyan arena.

According to Al-Serraj, who emphasized the need for a national dialogue and warned against internal conflicts, said the situation in Libya is complicated by political reluctance.

Egypt has held excessive meetings with Libyan officials and members in Tobruk’s House of Representatives to resolve the Libyan crisis.

On December 13, 2016, Cairo hosted a conference attended by Libyan officials and representatives from the country’s numerous factions, where they issued a declaration of principles and five proposed amendments to an agreement, brokered by the UN in 2015.

The Libyan Political Agreement, signed in Skhirat, Morocco December 2015 known as the Skhirat Agreement, intensified the internal strife rather than resolving it.

The conference concluded an agreement on amending the 8th article of the 2015 agreement that outline the authorities of the Libyan army chief commander.

The article constituted a major obstacle during signing Skhirat agreement as it included the exclusion of General Khalifa Haftar from leading the army.

The conference meetings were brokered under the auspices of the Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate and in a hotel related to the security entity.

The two-day conference was attended by Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and Army Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazi along with a range of Libyan representatives without the invitation or the attendance of any representative from the Islamic currents.

In this context, some parties in western Libya accused the conference of including only one stream in the Libyan crisis and that it didn’t include the other influential parties in the western area, especially the security council of Misrata city and the Islamic currents.

The conference concluded what the participants consider as “a road map to achieve unity in Libya during the coming period, “and one of the major recommendations presented by the participants, “to reconsider the responsibilities of the army chief commander that is currently held by Aqila Saleh, the head of Tobruk’s House of Representatives (HoR), who has promoted General Khalifa Haftar to Field Marshal last September.

In the same context, a Libyan high ranking military delegation reportedly arrived in Cairo on December 19 in a visit that lasted for several days.

The delegation, which arrived in a private jet from Libya, was headed by Libyan Defense Ministry’s Counselor Mohamed Abu al-Kassem Saleh, and mostly discussed the amendment of the Skhirat agreement, as was seen by many observers.

The Libyan delegation met with a number of top officials and figures in Egypt to discuss enhancing the cooperation ties, and the developments on the Libyan arena.

In the same context, a bilateral meeting was headed by Hegazi and some members from Tobruk’s parliament and Libyan intellectuals to resolve the Libyan crisis on December 21.

Moreover, Aqila Saleh, the president of the House of Representatives (HoR), has again been holding talks with top Egyptian officials on the Libyan crisis.

Saleh met with Egypt’s Chief-of-Staff, Lieutenant General Mahmoud Hegazi, as well as Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and other officials.

According to the official Facebook page of Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, Saleh discussed with high rank diplomatic and military officials the current situation and the recent developments on the Libyan arena.

In addition to the exerted efforts to reach a compromise based on the Political Agreement (PA) as general framework to reach a political resolution in Libya in the light of the outcomes that resulted from Cairo Conference.

Moreover, a third meeting was held this January between Egypt’s Chief-of-Staff, Lieutenant General Mahmoud Hegazi and members from Tobruk’s House of Representatives (east Libya) to resolve the Libyan crisis.

Egypt’s Minister of Defense said in a statement that Hegazi, the head of the committee in charge of the Libyan issue, and members of the committee, “summoned to Cairo an unidentified number of members from the Libyan House of Representatives (HoR), known as Tobruk’s Parliament, to continue the ongoing efforts to resolve the conflicting points that led to a political deadlock in Libya.”

The statement clarified that, “The meeting was to find a mechanism that would contribute in the political resolution in the light of the Political Agreement (Skhirat Agreement), and would allow all the parties related to the crisis to participate, particularly the members of the HoR (Tobruk’s parliament) and the members of Libya’s State Council (one of the outcomes of the Skhirat Agreement).

It seems that the Egypt’s al-Sisi is seeking to empower Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s position by amending the Skhirat agreement.

The Libyan delegations’ excessive visits to Egypt and the several visits of the UN envoy Martin Kobler to Egypt infer al-Sisi’s trials to enclose General Khalifa Haftar in the agreement and thus in the political and military scene.

A condition that was once refused by the-UN backed government and its western allies.

Al-Sisi is trying to strengthen Haftar’s role in Libya especially by focusing on amending the PA article that outlined the authorities of the Libyan army chief commander and that also excluded Haftar from leading the army.

Haftar is a military figure, backed by Tobruk government based in eastern Libya that refuses to recognize the U.N.-backed government, enjoys the support of several Arab nations, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, as well as western countries as France

The Egyptian Armed Forces assisted Haftar in extending his power in the east. Moreover, Egypt’s Armed Forces have been mandated to protect the joint borders from the sea to the Libyan-Sudanese borders.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Haftar had taken over oil facilities in eastern Libya from Petroleum Facilities Guards, a rival militia force allied to the UN-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.

Since the Libyan Revolution that overthrew the long-time dictator 2011 Muammar Gaddafi, violence has spread in Libya among the different Libyan factions.

Two rival governments operate in Libya, with self-proclaimed authorities controlling the capital of Tripoli and adjacent western areas and an internationally recognized government, based in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk.

Moreover, a third government was formed known as the Government of National Accord(GNA) supported by many western countries. The government has so far failed to restore the country’s unity.

None of the governments has a complete dominance over Libya until now.