CNBC quotes resident Senior Fellow of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East Karim Mezran on the unexpected recent actions by Libyan General Khalifa Haftar and whether he is currently assumed to be backed by the CIA:
He lived awfully close to Langley, Virginia for nearly 20 years, was backed by the Central Intelligence Agency in the mid 1980s, and suddenly, less than two weeks ago, amassed an army and air force and seemed to be gaining the upper hand in war-torn Libya.General Khalifa Haftar, once scorned in the North African country, is now the man to watch after starting a massive military offensive little more than a week ago with the apparent backing of the country’s air force and a Twitter hash tag to boot.
“I am quite surprised. We assessed him to be a marginal person,” said Frederic Wehrey, senior associate for the Middle East at the Carnegie Endowment.
“Everyone laughed at him. He was a running joke” after a failed coup attempt in February, leading to tweeters in Libya “making fun of him,” Wehrey said.
“We thought he went into oblivion,” said Karim Mezran of the Atlantic Council, “He surprised everyone.”