Russia is preparing to sell arms to Haftar via Algeria, MEE reveals

Haftar visits the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov off the coast of Libya on 11 January (Twitter @Chief_MarshallR)

Russia has agreed to arm the Operation Dignity forces of Khalifa Haftar in the eastern region and Algeria, a key mediator in the region, has also thrown its weight behind this Haftar-Russian deal, according to the Middle East Eye (MEE).

“We must face the facts. We are not going to wait forever for Libyan political parties to reach agreements. Libya needs the rule of law to be restored across the whole country and needs a strong army that is capable of ensuring its security up to the borders. And with the Russians we share a vision,” an Algerian source told the MEE on Wednesday.

Haftar’s forces in the east have been involved in a continuous war against the Benghazi and Derna Shura Councils, leading to the destruction of most Benghazi districts and the siege of the city of Derna, even after the Derna fighters kicked out IS, who Haftar used as an excuse to fight in the city.

Haftar visited Russia two times last year, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the east, Agilah Saleh, also visited Moscow last year before Haftar goes aboard the Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, on January 11 this year and, according to sources, signs a deal with the Russians for bringing arms and military necessities to his Operation Dignity forces in exchange of Russian military presence and base off Libya’s coast.

“There will be deeper coordination over the coming months,” said a source who was a colonel under Gaddafi. “Haftar is going to facilitate Russian access to ports in Libya as well as open up airport runways to them.” The MEE reported.

A diplomatic source told the MEE that January’s deal between Haftar and Russia was struck after a series of meetings in Algiers and Moscow.

According to the report of the MEE, Haftar could have turned to his allies, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, but most of their weapons are American, so the natural solution was Algeria, which gets 90 percent of its arms from Russia.

It stressed that the sources revealed that the idea was that some of the weapons of Algeria could be passed on to Libya.

“It would not really be a sale,” said the diplomat with a smile. “Let’s say it was more a form of support that suited everyone.” According to the MEE.

“Even though Algeria does not completely trust him, they know that he is at the moment the only one who can ensure a minimum of stability,” added the source.

This revelation comes as the UN-backed Government of National Accord tries to bring its fragile composition into a solid mold after deciding on Tuesday in Tunisia to reshuffle and include all of the political parties in the GNA.

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