Libya’s Old Army Appoints New Chief

Maj. Gen. Khalifa Haftar,

From AFP:  Commanders who defected from Moamar Gadhafi’s armed forces in the heat of the civil uprising named a new chief on Nov. 17, confronting the new Libyan authorities with a done-deal.

Some 150 officers and sub-officers, gathered in the eastern city of Al-Baida, unanimously approved the nomination of Maj. Gen. Khalifa Haftar and announced the re-activation of the army, which has yet to be officially reconstituted. . . .

The nomination will be presented for approval to the head of the governing National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, [Gen. Fraj] Bunseira told an audience of senior military officers. . . .

The members of the old army were keen to take the lead before a formal meeting scheduled for Nov. 20 to discuss the national army.

The officers believe the defense ministry is hostile to them and is ultimately responsible for the delays in reconstituting the armed forces.  

From Reuters:  The military chief of Libya’s rebels is a veteran Arab nationalist guerrilla foe of Muammar Gaddafi with past backing from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to a U.S. think-tank.

Khalifa Hefta is a former military commander who supported the 1969 coup that brought Gaddafi to power and became a member of Gaddafi’s policy-making Revolutionary Command Council before breaking with him in 1987, the Jamestown Foundation said.

He has lived for the past 20 years in America, said a foundation research paper written by Derek Henry Flood, editor of Jamestown’s Militant Leadership Monitor publication. It transliterates Hefta’s name as Haftar. . . .

The Jamestown paper described Hefta as "an old school secular Nasserist", referring to the pan-Arab ideology based on the ideas of the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Jamestown said that for many years Hefta had been the commander-in-exile of the Libyan National Army (LNA), the armed wing of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), a an exiled opposition group.  (photo: Al Arabiya)

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