16 – 23 February: Haftar hired western mercenaries headed by ex-Blackwater Erik Prince

Feb 24, 2021 | International actors

This week, members of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) met with Russian officials to discuss the presence of Russian operatives in Libya and further details emerged pertaining to military services provided to Libya National Army (LNA) Commander, Khalifa Haftar, by Erik Price.

In the last week, members of the 5+5 JMC travelled to Moscow to discuss with Russian officials the ‘unofficial Russia presence’ in Libya via the Wagner Group PMC. Additional details of the meeting are not known. On 19 February, it was reported that the GNA Minister of Defence Salah al-Din Namroush has called on the United States and its allies to assist the GNA in removing Russian forces deployed in Libya.

On 21 February, Reuters revealed that a report submitted to the UN Security Council Libya sanctions committee states that Erik Prince, the head of Frontier Resource Group and founder of the Blackwater, provided private military services to the commander of the LNA, Khalifa Haftar. Prince allegedly made a proposal to Haftar in April 2019, known as ‘Project Opus’, which involved the supply of armed assault helicopters, intelligence surveillance aircraft, maritime interdiction, drones and cyber, intelligence and targeting capabilities, and the kidnapping or killing of high-value individuals. Project Opus private military contractors were deployed to Libya but evacuated following security concerns and threats made by Haftar to the team management. According to Reuters, the report will be made public next month.

During the course of the week, reports emerged that as many as 500 technicals belonging to Sudanese mercenaries departed Libya for Chad. Approximately half of the Sundance mercenaries belong to the Sudanese Liberation Army led by Minni Minawi (SLA-MM).