Tags: Donald Trump | Middle East | Trump Administration | War on Terrorism | robert obrien | libya | mike pompeo

Trump, NSA O'Brien Reverse 'Bolton Doctrine' on Libya

national security adviser stands with dropped jaw outside of the white house
(Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 04 August 2020 05:02 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In a strongly worded statement from White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, the Trump administration on Tuesday afternoon called on foreign powers to end their military involvement in Libya and finalize a ceasefire in the oil rich North African country.

In so doing, the administration effectively scuttled its controversial embrace last year of one of one of the principals in the years-long struggle for control of Libya: Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, an insurgent warlord and onetime chief of staff to the late Libyan strongman Muhammar Qaddafi.

The outreach and encouragement to Haftar was, Newsmax reported last April, was the work of then-National Security Adviser John Bolton. 

By most accounts, Haftar is contemptuous of democracy and wants to rule as a strongman.  President Donald Trump's embrace of the field marshal came just before the Easter and Passover holidays, when Trump telephoned Haftar and, as a statement from the White House put it, "recognized Field Marshal Haftar's significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya's transition to a stable, democratic political system."

As Newsmax reported, sources close to the administration said Bolton was the pivotal figure pushing Trump to embrace Haftar  over the Government of National Accord (GNA) headed for three years by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

The move was, to say the least, a "shocker," as the GNA is recognized by the U.S., the United Nations, and the European Union.

Also shocking was the Haftar call came weeks after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Haftar's strike against the capital in Libya.

"We have made clear that we oppose the military offensive by Khalifa Haftar's forces and urge the immediate halt to these military operations against the Libyan capital," said Pompeo, "This unilateral military campaign against Tripoli is endangering civilians and undermining prospects for a better future for all Libyans."

O'Brien's statement Tuesday effectively scuttles the so-called "Bolton Doctrine." In O'Brien's words, "President Trump has spoken with several world leaders about Libya, and it is clear there is no 'winning" side'.  Libyans can win only if they come together to reclaim their sovereignty and rebuild a unified country."

He went on to urge "all parties – both those responsible for the current escalation and those working to end it – to enable the National Oil Corporation to resume its vital work, with full transparency, and to implement a demilitarized solution for Sirte and al-Jufra, respect the UN arms embargo, and finalize a ceasefire under the UN-led 5+5 military talks."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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In a strongly worded statement from White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, the Trump administration on Tuesday afternoon called on foreign powers to end their military involvement in Libya and finalize a ceasefire in the oil rich North African country.
robert obrien, libya, mike pompeo, ceasefire, military
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2020-02-04
Tuesday, 04 August 2020 05:02 PM
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