It is said that he has just made a secret trip to Moscow; this is unsure, but it is certain that the Russians have had a sustained dialogue with him in recent years. On the other side, not surprisingly, we find, as elsewhere, Turkey and Qatar.
And then there are the Europeans. In Misrata, at the moment, demonstrators are marching in the streets denouncing France's aid to the putschist Marshal. Everyone knows that the French government supported the ANL a few years ago by sending special forces, even air strikes, when Marshal Haftar's troops destroyed pockets of jihadists who had established themselves in the south and east of the country. One of the Marshal's assets vis-à-vis Europeans is his ability to prevent the return of Libyans who left for Syria to join Daesh's ranks, as well as to prevent the departure of migrants to Europe. Although they often appeared to be in competition, the Italians and the French, through their mediations, helped to confer a sense of repute to the Marshal. Only the Germans - who had abstained on the resolution 1973 authorizing the intervention in 2011 - stand firm in their disapproval of Marshal Haftar. The British are trying to develop international action for a ceasefire.
On the surface, however, the international community remains united in its call for de-escalation and its support for UN mediation. From this point of view, we are still far from a "globalization of the conflict". Washington has very little interest in it for that matter. However, "weak signals" show the limits of the unity of the powers concerned: Egypt has not joined any common call; Russia did not want the ANL to be mentioned in a Security Council text in New York; among Europeans, there is strong suspicion that France's role is ambiguous. Very involved in the case, Mr. Le Drian was in Libya, where he met again Mr. Sarraj and also the Marshal, a few days before the offensive on Tripoli. In terms of image, French diplomacy is playing big in this affair: it has given the impression in recent years of compromising itself with a dictator's apprentice; this risky attitude can be justified if it gives it the means today to send convincing messages to Marshal Haftar to stop the fighting. This would be all the more important as, at a time when the latter is seeking to reclaim the role of the "strong man" indulged by foreign powers for his hostility towards Islamists, Algerians and Sudanese show that the desire to get rid of authoritarian regimes remains well alive in the region.
Copyright : Mahmud TURKIA / AFP
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