Trump praises Haftar in apparent reversal of US policy on Libya

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, on Friday after US President Donald Trump praised Libya’s Khalifa Haftar amid a military assault by the renegade general to seize the capital.
A White House statement said Trump and Haftar spoke by phone on Monday “to discuss ongoing counterterrorism efforts to achieve peace and stability in Libya”.
On April 4, Haftar and his forces launched an offensive against the country’s internationally recognised government, which is based in Tripoli.
In their phone call, Trump “recognised Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.”
It was unclear why the White House waited several days to announce the phone call.
Trump’s praise for Haftar was seen in Tripoli as a reversal in US policy on Libya, as earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded an immediate halt to Haftar’s offensive.
Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Tripoli, said news of the conversation caused anger in the capital with residents perceiving the call as a show of support by Trump for Haftar’s offensive.
“People are very angry, thousands of people have come out here on the main streets and squares especially in Tripoli and they are calling on the international community to stop the military aggression by Haftar forces,” he said.
At least 2,000 people took part in Friday’s protest in Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square to protest the push on Tripoli by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
Abdelrizaq Musheirib, a protester criticised Trump’s call to the commander, telling Reuters news agency: “The call has no meaning but we will respond to it.”

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