Senior US officials meet with Haftar to discuss a suspension of hostilities
The US State Department said that on 24 November, a delegation of senior US officials met with Libyan National Army (LNA) leader Khalifa Haftar at an undisclosed location to discuss steps to achieve a suspension of hostilities and a political resolution to the Libyan conflict. The US delegation included Deputy National Security Advisor for Middle Eastern and North African Affairs Victoria Coates, Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy Matthew Zais, and US AFRICOM Deputy Director for Strategy, Engagement, and Programs Brigadier General Steven deMilliano.
This high-level meeting signifies that the US views Haftar as a key player in the Libyan conflict. However, the message of this meeting (especially when taken together with other recent US-Libya developments) was clear – the US is backing a political solution not a military one. US officials have also met with key Tripoli officials such as Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and Minister of Interior Fathi Bashaagha recently.
This meeting with Haftar, combined with recent meetings with GNA officials and the Libya bill introduced into the House and Senate indicate that increased US engagement on Libya looks likely to be sustained in the coming months. The current US approach appears to be closely aligned with that of UNSMIL. As a result, US pressure on the leadership figures on both sides of the conflict is likely to create a greater incentive for these actors to engage with whatever UN-backed political process emerges, or at least be seen to be engaging with it.