Did the United States endorse General Haftar?
On 19 April, France 24 reported that the President of the United States, Donald Trump, discussed the situation in Libya with General Haftar on 15 April by phone. According to a White House statement, the US president “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system”.
For Karim Mezran, interviewed by Ashish Kumar Sen in an article for The Atlantic Council published on 22 April, the apparent US support to Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli is paradoxical as it contrasts with earlier declarations by the US opposing the military solution in Libya. Mezran analyses Trump’s declaration to Haftar as an impulsive action which does not necessarily suggest a shift in the US position.
However, for other analysts such as Jalel Harchaoui or Frederic Wehrey, such a conversation between Haftar and Trump could signify an endorsement by the US of the military strongman and his strategy for Libya. Furthermore, for Harchaoui, it creates “an environment where a military intervention by foreign states, like Egypt, is likelier”.
Fighting persist in Tripoli, causing significant casualties amid the civilian population. However, both Russia and the US announced on 18 April that they could not support a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya at this time.