Qatar calls for arms embargo against Haftar

The Foreign Minister of Qatar, Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman called for an effective arms embargo on the militias of warlord Khalifa Haftar.

Background

Libya’s military strong man, Khalifa Haftar took part in the coup that brought Muammar Gaddafi to power in 1969. In 1980, Gaddafi promoted Haftar to the rank of a colonel.

With the start of anti-Gaddafi uprisings in 2011, the field marshal returned to Libya where he became a key commander of the makeshift rebel force in the east. Backed by the CIA, he formed the military wing for the National Front for the Salvation of Libya to overthrow Gaddafi.

Backed by UAE and Egypt, Haftar launched a military campaign against what he called "terrorists" in Benghazi and Tripoli. In 2016, Haftar visited Russia who agreed to supply him with weapons and military equipment to fight ISIL's branch in Libya. In 2017 Emmanuel Macron hosted him in Paris alongside GNA head Fayez Seraj.

Analysis

Qatar’s foreign minister has called for an effective restriction of arms sales to eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar. He also stressed the necessity of the withdrawal of Haftar's militias from the areas they have seized recently.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said he was pleased to know that Paris was working to ensure a planned national reconciliation conference on Libya goes ahead. Asked about how the conflict in Libya can be stopped, Sheikh Mohammed said: “By rendering effective the embargo against Haftar and preventing those countries that have supplied him with munitions and state-of-the-art weapons from continuing to do so,”. He later referred to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt - three countries which severed ties with Qatar in 2017 in a regional dispute.

Egypt and the UAE are considered main supporters of Haftar, who has built his position battling Islamist militants and other opponents in eastern Libya. East Libyan authorities say Qatar backs rival, Islamist-leaning factions in western Libya.

Assessment

Our assessment is that there global powers weighing strongly in this situation hindering international efforts to achieve a Libyan national dialogue. We feel that Qatar has accused the UAE and Saudi Arabia of supporting counter-revolutionary groups and dictators in the region since an outpouring of pro-democracy protests in the Middle East during the 2011 Arab Spring.