The Trump administration is lauding Libyan military leader Khalifa Haftar, praising the former general’s efforts to thwart terrorist groups in the divided North African country, according to the White House.
Mr. Trump spoke Friday morning by phone with Gen. Haftar, whose Russian-backed Libyan National Army is in the midst of a military campaign against the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, administration officials said in a statement.
The two men discussed ” ongoing counterterrorism efforts and the need to achieve peace and stability in Libya” and Mr. Trump reportedly praised Gen. Haftar — who once served as a top military ally for Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi — for his significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources.
Despite the ongoing two-week campaign by Gen. Haftar’s forces in Tripoli against the Libya’s Government of National Accord, the weak, internationally-recognized ruling authority, Mr. Trump advocated for “a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.”
A Libyan-born U.S. national and a former asset of the CIA, Gen. Haftar lived in Virginia from the 1980s until 2011, when he returned to native land after Gadhafi’s violent overthrow and eventual death in the wake of the Arab Spring that year.
After his return, Gen. Haftar took command of the Libyan National Army in the country’s eastern half and led those forces against al Qaeda and Islamic State terror cells operating in the country. With backing from Russia and some Western European countries, he also battled against the myriad armed militias that rose to power in Libya in the chaos that followed Gadhafi’s death.
The Libyan military commander has also garnered support from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, given his staunch opposition of long-standing Islamist extremist groups.
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