President Trump, in a surprise reversal of U.S. policy, has acted to undercut United Nations efforts to build and support a democratic government in Libya.
(1). David D. Kirkpatrick, “Trump Endorses an Aspiring Libyan Strongman, Reversing Policy,” New York Times,April 19, 2019.
President Trump on Friday abruptly reversed American policy toward Libya, issuing a statement publicly endorsing an aspiring strongman in his battle to depose the United Nations-backed government.
The would-be strongman, Khalifa Hifter, launched a surprise attack on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, more than two weeks ago. Relief agencies said Thursday that more than 200 people had been killed in the battle, and in recent days Mr. Hifter’s forces have started shelling civilian neighborhoods.
(Hifter’s name is also written in English as “Haftar”.)
(2) Borzou Daragahi, “Trump and Libya: White House egged on warlord who intensified attack on Tripoli; Trump didn’t, however, call the country’s UN-backed prime minister,” The Independent, April 22, 2019.
Daragahi, a distinguished foreign correspondent, reported further that on Thursday, April 18, the United States and Russia together blocked a U.N. Security Counsel resolution calling for a ceasefire. Trump’s call to Hifter was on April 15, but only reported by the White House on Good Friday, April 19, 2019.
A day after the phone call, Mr Haftar’s collection of militias and armed groups, called the Libyan National Army, intensified their assault on the capital, launching airstrikes and rockets deep into the capital, allegedly causing civilian casualties.
Already more than 200 people have been killed and 20,000 displaced in the fighting.
On Thursday the United States joined Russia in scuttling an attempt at the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution calling for an end to the fighting truce, an apparent reversal of years of Washington policy to back Mr Serraj’s government.
A top Democrat on Capitol Hill promptly criticized Trump’s sudden reversal of U.S. policy towards Libya.
Haaretz and Reuter’s, “Top Democrat Slams Trump Over Libya: Supporting an ‘Authoritarian Attacking a UN-backed Government’; Over 210 killed in Tripoli fighting as Trump speaks with Libyan commander Haftar,” Haaretz, April 21, 2019 (3:07 p.m.)
Hifter is surpported ny the authoritarian governments of Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. The U.N.-backed government in Tripoli is the product of long-standing efforts by the United Nations to help develop a democratic national government in Libya.
By his sudden shift in U.S. policy, which previously had been to support the U.N.-backed government, Trump has undercut U.N. efforts while throwing U.S. support to a would-be authoritarian leader backed by Russia and authoritarian governments in the region.
The Trenchant Observer