Who are Haftar’s international backers?
Officially, they are few and far between. Every major state condoned the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), and Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. But in reality, some “were also having parallel conversations with different actors and that enabled those actors to disregard the legal process and go with the military process,” says Elham Saudi, co-founder of London-based NGO Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL).
Those states include Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which want to curb the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya; Russia, which has treated wounded soldiers and reportedly printed money on behalf of Haftar; and France, which views him as key to stabilizing Libya and slowing the flow of migrants into Europe. Italy, which also wants to prevent migration through Libya, has fallen out with France over its tacit support of Haftar. “Nominally, of course, they’re on the same side, that of the U.N.-backed government,” says Joost Hiltermann, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the International Crisis Group. “But in reality Italy and France are on opposite sides of this.”
... no state has threatened sanctions or acted to affirm the legitimacy of the internationally-backed government in Tripoli. As such, Haftar has interpreted their warnings as an amber, rather than a red light, according to International Crisis Group. For LFJL’s Saudi, the current crisis is the “natural culmination” of the international community’s inconsistency and failure to affirm the rule of law in Libya. “The international agenda has been pure carrot and no stick,” she says. “What is the incentive now to play by the rules?”