Leaked tapes reveal Western support for Libyan Gen. Haftar

by WorldTribune Staff, July 11, 2016

British, French and U.S. forces are coordinating airstrikes with Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar, leaked tapes of air traffic recordings reveal.

The tapes back earlier reports of Western support for Benghazi-based Haftar, whose forces are attempting to gain control of eastern Libya from Islamist militia groups, Middle East Eye reported.

Gen. Khalifa Haftar. /Reuters
Gen. Khalifa Haftar. /Reuters

Haftar is opposed to the UN-backed unity government in Libya.

“The leaked tapes feature pilots and air traffic controllers speaking in Arabic and English. British, American, French and Italian accents can be heard,” the Middle East Eye report said.

At least one airstrike was heard being coordinated in the tapes, which were recorded from the Benina air base, Haftar’s most important military facility.

The UN Security Council in June authorized a naval force from the European Union to enforce an arms embargo on Libya by intercepting ships suspected of carrying weapons. Shipments from Egypt, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan were reported to various factions, including Haftar’s forces.

“The sanctions are meaningless,” Haftar’s spokesman said at the time. “At the moment we have only heard reports in the media and have had no formal message.”

In a recent interview with the BBC, Haftar confirmed he had received support from foreign powers.

Speaking about the long-term consequences of the leak, Mattia Toaldo, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Middle East Eye: “I think that it changes things more in Europe than in Libya because it’s more difficult for the French government to deny any involvement in Benghazi. It will have to explain why it’s supporting the unity government with a lot of diplomatic effort, while its military forces are supporting the rival of that government.”