Haftar Talks With Russian MoD Aboard Aircraft Carrier

Jan 17, 2017 | International actors

On 11 January, Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), was formally received aboard the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. The Russian vessel is currently anchored off the coast of Tubruk. While on board, Haftar had a closed teleconference meeting with the Russian Minister of Defense. According to local reports, he also signed a ‘medical assistance agreement’. Haftar’s symbolic visit aboard the Admiral Kuznetsov comes just weeks after his high profile visit to Russia during which he met Foreign Minister Lavrov and Defense Minister Shoigu to discuss anti-terrorism cooperation, and political and military support for the LNA.

Last week, PM Fayez al-Serraj reportedly intervened to cancel a meeting which had been planned by the Libyan Political Dialogue (LPD) group in Ghadames to discuss a way out of the political deadlock. Informed sources say that political rivals may be close to agreeing a breakthrough amendment to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). The amendment would incorporate Haftar within the LPA, reduce the Presidential Council from 9 to 3 members, and change its membership, including removing al-Serraj. Members of the LPD are set to meet with House of Representatives (HoR) members in Tunisia on 18 and 19 January to discuss the amendment and a new government.

On 14 January, Haftar summoned the senior LNA commanders from the east, west and south of Libya for a high-level meeting with the HoR president Ageelah Saleh, and boycotting member of the Presidential Council, Ali al-Gutrani. Over the last two weeks, increased shuttle diplomacy by Libya’s political rivals between regional powers Egypt and Algeria is said to be helping to bridge the political divide.