Egypt's Sisi meets Libyan commander Haftar in Cairo

Egypt's Sisi meets Libyan commander Haftar in Cairo

2019/04/14 | 19:30 - Source: Baghdad Post

(ThisDay | Iraq News Now)-

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday met in

Cairo with Khalifa Haftar, the commander of eastern-based Libyan forces, who is

under international pressure to halt an advance on the capital Tripoli.Egypt has close ties with Haftar, whose Libyan National Army

(LNA) controls the east and swept through the mainly desert south earlier this

year before moving to Tripoli ten days ago in a major escalation of conflict.His move is the latest in a cycle of conflict and anarchy

since the 2011 toppling of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.Haftar has projected himself as the scourge of Islamist

militants and of the militias that grew powerful after the uprising.

His rivals

say he has fueled conflict and risks returning Libya to authoritarian rule.A statement from Sisi's office did not mention Haftar's

offensive directly but "confirmed Egypt's support for efforts to combat

terrorism and extremist groups and militias in order to achieve security and

stability for the Libyan citizen".The presidency released photos showing Haftar, dressed in a

blue suit, sitting with Sisi and his head of intelligence Abbas Kamel.Haftar, a former general in Gaddafi's army who later turned

against him, had long talked of a move on Tripoli, in Libya's west, where an

internationally-recognised government sits.His campaign has disrupted efforts by the United Nations to

bring rival eastern and western administrations to the negotiating table to plan

an election and end the turmoil.Sunday was the day the United Nations had hoped to hold a

national conference in the southwestern town of Ghadames."Our position will not change," UN envoy Ghassan

Salame tweeted.

"You've learned and tasted war.

No matter how obstinate

one becomes, there is no solution except a political one."SURPRISE PUSH FOR TRIPOLIAs well as thwarting the UN plan, the flare-up threatens

to disrupt oil supplies, boost migration to Europe, let Islamist militants

exploit the chaos, and worsen Libyans' suffering.The fighting has killed 121 people, mainly fighters, and

wounded another 561, according to UN tallies.

Some 13,600 people have fled

their homes.Fighting in recent days has been taking place on the

outskirts of Tripoli as LNA forces have been bogged down by groups aligned with

the Government of National Accord (GNA).The front lines were mostly calm on Sunday morning but

military sources said in the afternoon that an eastern Libyan warplane crashed

in southern Tripoli.

No further details were available.The 75-year-old Haftar's push for Tripoli took many by

surprise and has brought calls from round the world for a ceasefire.

By moving

forces west, his eastern home base is exposed and it may be hard for Haftar to

retreat without losing standing among friends and foes alike.While some pro-Haftar media had predicted a quick victory,

Tripoli government forces have halted him about 11 km (7 miles) from the centre

near an airport that was largely destroyed in a previous bout of fighting five

years ago.His lightning drive appears to have united diverse factions

in western Libya in the defence of Tripoli.

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