The Mysterious Disappearance Of Khalifa Haftar

Akhbat al-Youm, Egypt, April 19

There has been a wide range of rumors surrounding the fate of Libyan army chief Khalifa Haftar, who disappeared in Libya a few weeks ago. At first, several reports suggested Haftar had been assassinated in a car bombing. Later, he was said to have suffered a severe stroke that left him in a coma. He also was reported to have been transported to receive medical treatment in France, according to several government officials in Paris. Regardless of Haftar’s whereabouts, one thing remains clear: that is, his disappearance spells trouble for Libya as there will be a violent struggle to fill the power vacuum. Haftar, who led a failed American-backed attempt to oust Muammar Gaddafi in the late 1980s, has been a bad bet. During the last decade, and especially since the death of Gaddafi, he has done nothing but foment violence and spread sectarian hatred throughout Libyan society. While he frequently claimed to be fighting the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State in Libya, in reality he did nothing to crush terrorism. Instead, Haftar and his loyalists, armed militias funded by Western powers, crushed their opponents and tortured anyone who dared to defy their rule. This is what the Libyan people have been claiming for years, but to no avail. The United States placed its trust in Haftar by providing him with money and protection while training his soldiers to rebel against Gadaffi. America’s attempts failed time and again until Haftar finally rose to power following the Arab Spring. Thereafter, he continued undermining America’s interests by allying with shady forces in the region and turning a blind eye to terrorist groups that entered Libya. It should come as no surprise, then, that Haftar disappeared. Whether he suffered a stroke or was targeted for assassination, there is no doubt in my mind about who is behind his disappearance. –Kadi bin Umar 

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