(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
General Khalifa Haftar arrived in Moscow on Sunday to attend a scheduled meeting with Russian senior officials, such as Defense Minister Segei Shaigu, Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov, and the Russian National Security Council, according to news reports.
The purpose of the meetings will be to discuss the current events in Libya including Libya’s battle against ISIS in Sirte, and the battles fought by Haftar’s forces in Benghazi.
News of the meeting comes as Aguila Saleh Issa, the head of the Tobruk-based parliament backed by Haftar, made requests to Algeria for military assistance.
This was not Haftar’s first trip to the Russian capital, he had also made a trip to Moscow in June.
Haftar and the Tobruk parliament have received support from key figures in the Kremlin who recognize that the parliament is Libya’s “legitimately elected legislative body.” Russia also recognizes the UN-backed Government of National of Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli as being “in principle legitimate.”
Libyan Prime Minister Fayaz Al-Sarraj met with Ivan Molotkov, the Russian ambassador to Libya in October. Al-Sarraj discussed enhancing military cooperation in his meeting with the Russian diplomat.
It is “quite natural” that both the Tripoli government and the Tobruk parliament are seeking support from Russia, said Molotkov earlier this year.
“It is not Libya’s opposing sides but the whole of Libya that seeks Russia’s support. They understand that without us it would be very difficult to overcome the existing crisis. It is therefore quite natural that different parties want to meet with us and ask us for moral and material support.”
Currently there are two main political powers in Libya, the UN-backed GNA based in Tripoli and the Tobruk-based parliament, also known as the House of Representatives. The HoR has previously refused to give the unity government its support but will soon be voting on whether or not they support the new cabinet assembled by the GNA.
Earlier this month, a UN mediation team called on Libya’s eastern parliament to formally recognize the Libyan political agreement which was signed nearly a year ago. The meditation team also called on the Presidential Council “to improve its performance to address the stifling security, social and economic problems that face Libyan citizens across the country”.