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Former Libyan PM announces support for 'Operation Dignity'

Zeidan calls on Libyan officers to "join their colleagues in Operation Dignity", as US Foreign Office denies recent communication with Haftar
Ali Zeidan speaking at a press conference after his 2013 kidnapping (AFP)

Ali Zeidan, the former Prime Minister of Libya, announced his support for General Haftar’s operation on Tuesday, dubbed a “coup” by the current Prime Minister.

Speaking to a private Libyan television station, Zeidan called on all officers in the Libyan army to “join their colleagues in Operation Dignity”, the campaign started in Benghazi last Friday by retired general Khalifa Haftar, purportedly to root out government-aligned militia groups in the city.

Zeidan urged Libya’s official army to support what he called the “army’s war on terrorism”, the campaign being waged by Haftar’s unofficial forces, who call themselves the “Libyan Army” but are not officially part of the national military.  

Seperately Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya newspaper reported that Libya’s military intelligence bureau has also announced its support for Haftar’s forces, although so far there has been no official or independent confirmation of the move. 

According to the site, the bureau joined the police directorate of the capital Tripoli and tribal leaders near to Tripoli in announcing its support for “Operation Dignity.”

The international community has largely responded by urging for calm, although Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the UAE have closed their embassies and evacuated staff. 

The US State Department has said it is monitoring the situation "minute-by-minute" and has not made a decission about pulling out its nationals and diplomatic staff. 

Haftar was a close ally of Moamar Gaddafi until the late 1980s. He spent 20 years in the US before returning to Libya in 2011. 

Despite previous connections between the US And Haftar, the US has denied any direct involvement in the recent fighting in Libya according to Sky News Arabia.

In a statement on Wednesday, the official spokesperson said that the State Department “has not had any communication with [Haftar] recently.”

She added that the US does not accept current events on the ground in Libya, and nor is it supporting them.

“We call on all parties to restrain from violence and seek a solution via peaceful means,” she added. 

In October, Zeidan was briefly detained in Tripoli by armed men.

Zeidan, who is viewed as popular with western diplomats, was sacked in March by parliament after failing to prevent a North Korean tanker loading oil from a port under rebel controlled in the east of the country.

He has since fled Libya, and has voiced criticism of the current parliament and government.