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Libyan renegade general hails support of Egyptian leadership

Haftar tells Egyptian state media that he consults with and recieves intelligence data from the Egyptian military and government
Haftar (R) and UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler (AFP)

Renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar has hailed the support of Egypt's military and the country's leadership, calling the head of the Egyptian army "an intimate friend".

In an interview with Egypt’s state-owned al-Ahram newspaper, Haftar said he regularly consulted Egyptian authorities about Libyan affairs and he received intelligence from Egypt’s military.

“We deal at the leadership level (with Egypt) with a high degree of transparency and clarity,” he said on Monday. “We consult among ourselves on all issues of common interest and we cooperate without limit for the sake of our countries’ interests.”

Talking about other countries dealing with terrorism, he said: “You find them keen on providing us with intelligence data and dedicating their advanced technologies in carrying out monitoring and spying operations. Foremost among these countries are Egypt and France.”

He said they exchanged “intelligence data about the activities of terrorist groups, about their locations, combat capabilities, funding, logistics, leaders, movements, communications, and those who collaborate with them.”

The general, who recently annointed himself "field marshal" in control of a "Libyan National Army", is opposed to a UN-backed Libyam unity government knowns as the GNA. His forces are loyal to a rival parliament sitting in Tobruk, which refuses to recognise the GNA's authority.

Middle East Eye has revealed that despite the UN plan to unify Libyan politics, Haftar has been supported by US, Jordanian, British, Italian, Emirati and French forces in battles against groups he opposes around Benghazi.

Haftar was recently in Cairo to meet Chief of Staff General Mahmoud Hegazy, who is the brother-in-law of the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Sisi appointed Hegazy the chairman of the committee in charge of the Libyan crisis.

Haftar described Hegazy as “an intimate friend and a person who is well-known to be calm, wise, and noble.”

According to the Libyan general, the two men discussed the relationship between the military and executive branch of power and their “anxiousness not to embroil it (the military) in the political conflict over power, especially as we are going through an extraordinary stage during which the army plays a pivotal role in bolstering stability.”

Haftar then turned his fire on the Muslim Brotherhood in his interview, saying that any group with an armed wing should be considered a "terrorist organisation" as they sought to impose their views by force.

He argued that the Brotherhood was at the forefront of such organisations and that it could not be a part of any future political process as things stood.

He also criticised Martin Kobler, the head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya.

Haftar accused the UN special representative of intruding into sensitive issues that have nothing to do with his official task.

He claimed that Kobler asked for a meeting with him to discuss the structure of the Libyan army and about the wider war on terrorism in the North African country. The Libyan general asked rhetorically what that war had to do with Kobler.

Local media also reported that Kobler is meeting the head of the Libyan Presidential Council Fayiz Al-Sarraj and with the Speaker of the Libyan Parliament Akilah Salih in Cairo this week.

In a separate interview with the Russian news agency Sputnik, Haftar said the Egyptian army was bearing the largest portion of the burden in protecting the Libyan border.

He praised the capacities of the Egyptian military, saying that their military personnel, weapons and technology could not be compared with those of Libya.

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