LAA Disappointed by US Embassy in Libya Comments on Haftar’s Attempted Coup

The Libyan American Alliance expresses deep disappointment in the United States Embassy in Libya’s response to warlord Khalifa Haftar’s attempted coup and dissolution of the House of Representatives in Tobruk. The Embassy’s statement is particularly tone-deaf given Haftar’s adamant rejection of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). The LPA, signed in December 2015 at Skhirat, Morocco, is recognized by the US and reinforced by Executive Order 13566.

We call on the US Embassy in Libya, the US Department of State, and other US agencies to respect Executive Order 13566, its amendments, and all Security Council resolutions regarding peace and stability in Libya.

We remind our partners in the US that Khalifa Haftar is neither a Field Marshal nor the leader of the Libyan National Army, as he was falsely referred to in the Arabic version of the US Embassy statement. Especially given recent actions, Haftar does not and cannot represent any legitimate entity of the Libyan government moving forward. Such inaccurate statements on the part of the US Embassy in Libya erode the trust we should cultivate with the Libyan people and undermine US credibility and support for international efforts in Libya.

The reality is that Khalifa Haftar, a US citizen, is being sued in several US courts, including the US Eastern District Court of Virginia, for war crimes in Libya. He is wanted by the Libyan General Prosecutor’s office for investigation. Haftar’s lieutenants have arrest warrants against them for war crimes in the International Criminal Court in the Hague and have been sanctioned by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control. He has repeatedly rejected internationally brokered agreements and this week declared his complete rejection of such efforts. Based on this track record, Khalifa Haftar is no longer viable as a part of future Libyan political settlements.

Libyans are determined to establish a democratic, civil state that respects rule of law. In alignment with this shared goal, US policy should insist on an end to hostilities, a complete withdrawal of forces from Tripoli, a cessation of foreign interference in Libya, and a return to the pathways for peace outlined in the Berlin Process. Lukewarm disapproval accompanied by the continued engagement of war criminals in political settlements stands in stark contrast to our values as Americans and undermines the US-Libya relationship in the long term.

To this end, we urge the State Department and Ambassador Norland to withdraw the statement published on Monday, April 27th recognizing Khalifa Haftar as the commander of the Libyan National Army and inviting him to be an equal negotiator in the future of Libya. In accordance with longstanding US Libya policy, we urge the US Embassy to reaffirm its support for and recognition of the sole legitimate government of Libya—the Government of National Accord—and to work with the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people across Libya’s regions who continue to recognize the LPA as the best pathway toward Libya’s future.