Report scandalizes Israeli military support for Haftar in east Libya

  • Libyan News + Agencies |
  • Saturday 5 August 2017

A source confirms that Israel has growing ties with Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, including carrying out strikes against IS in Sirte

A well-informed Israeli source – who requested anonymity, considering the matter is censored by the Israeli military – tells me that the IDF has bombed Islamic State military positions (Google translation) in Libya on behalf of strongman General Khalifa Haftar (read a more comprehensive profile here).

The IDF military censor determined that the information cannot be published in Israel. Until this week, the censor wouldn’t even permit Israeli journalists to refer to foreign media reporting on this story. In recent days, Yediot Aharonot published a flattering profile of Haftar which referred to a Kuwaiti article in al-Jarida, linked above, confirming these reports. Under Israeli censorship provisions, journalists prohibited from directly reporting on certain events often may refer to the same events via foreign publications and so skirt censorship.

Israel has a natural affinity for Middle East strongmen with little or no religious or ideological commitments – Jordan’s Abdullah, Egypt’s Mubarak and al-Sisi
The reports provide mounting evidence of direct Israeli intervention in the multi-sided Libyan civil war between Haftar, Islamist militias and Islamic State. My requests for comment tweeted to the IDF spokesperson unit and Lt Col Peter Lerner were unanswered at the time of publication of this article.

Haftar is aligned with Sunni states, most notably Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which are also reported to have bombed Libyan forces hostile to Haftar. The latter is sometimes called the “Libyan al-Sisi”. The Israeli source confirmed to me the Kuwaiti newspaper’s story, saying Israel offered direct military aid on behalf of Haftar, including air attacks on IS positions in Sirte and elsewhere.

An IDF source told my contact: “A friend of our friend – and an enemy of our enemy – is our friend, and Haftar is a friend of Egypt, Jordan and UAE. He also fights ISIS.”

The Israeli censor even prohibited quoting this report from the Kuwaiti paper al-Jarida’s Jerusalem correspondent, which was probably leaked by Israeli sources. The report, dated 27 August 2015, says Israel bombed Sirte on 25 August 2015:

Lest anyone believe that events of 2015 have changed, the New Arab reports that Haftar met recently with Mossad officials at a meeting brokered by the United Arab Emirates, one of the Sunni allies I mentioned above. “Coordination between Haftar and Israel has been ongoing, he held talks with Mossad agents in Jordan in 2015 and 2016,” the anonymous source told the New Arab.

The report claimed that the meetings were mediated by the UAE and that Haftar met with Israeli intelligence agents. It claimed that Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army had received Israeli sniper rifles and night vision equipment. It further hinted that there may have been coordination between Haftar’s command and the Israeli military during the offensive against several jihadist groups in Benghazi in mid-2014, known as Operation Dignity.

During the fighting, one of Haftar’s MiG fighters was allegedly shot down by the Islamists and one of Haftar’s air bases was taken. It’s possible the Israeli jets were called in to stave off an even greater tactical defeat.

(Source: Middle East Eye)

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