By Hadi Fornaji.
Tunis, 1 May 2017:
Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter flew from Benghazi’s Benina Airport today to Abu Dhabi amid speculation that he will meet with Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj there.
According to a statement from the Libyan National Army General Command media office, the visit is at the invitation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy commander of the UAE armed forces. However, there have been constant rumours over the past three or four days of an encounter between him and Serraj having been organised by the Emiratis.
Hafter is said to be under heavy pressure by the Emiratis as well as by the Egyptians, Russians and the Americans to meet the PC head who, it is said, will arrive in the UAE in the next couple of days.
In February, Hafter refused to meet him in Cairo despite major efforts by the Egyptian government to broker an encounter. Serraj later claimed that Hafter had baulked at meeting him on the grounds that House of Representatives (HoR) President Ageela Saleh, who was also in the Egyptian capital at the time, should also have taken part but had refused to do so.
Hafter’s refusal resulted in a distinct cooling of relations between him and Cairo, and they are not yet seen as being fully mended.
Hafter was last in Abu Dhabi three weeks ago, again at the invitation of Sheikh Mohammed, during which time he is reported to have met secretly with a senior US military official.