Why It Matters: The U.S. decision not to support the resolution may indicate that Washington is considering shifting its stance toward supporting the Libyan National Army and its commander, Field Marshal Khalifa
The shift has a surprising element, since Stratfor also states that Haftar is not clearly winning. This is far more significant than if he was. Quoting,
According to the latest reports, LNA members have been retreating toward al-Ghariyana as they have struggled to break into Tripoli’s southern districts.
I’ve been a Haftar fan from the start. He lived here for two decades, and made the politically significant choice of U.S. citizenship. Before we get intellectual, let’s use a broad brush:
- He’s one of ours.
- He despises Islamism, the theocratic intrusion of religion into government.
- He has no enthusiasm for democracy in Libya.
Haftar’s aim is the overthrow of a government that was formed by a consensual process that included some elections, though the electoral process was discontinuous. Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, though honored mostly in the breach, states
“…none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by a military coup or decree.”
Carthage was a city; Libya is not. The U.S. realization is that the Government of National Accord, confined to a single city, with only partial recognition by other elements, and a discontinuous electoral process, does not conform with the definition of democracy assumed by the Foreign Assistance Act.
This is the broad brush. In Russians Deploy to back Libya’s Haftar, I wrote,
- As a consequence of the U.S. historical tradition of religious tolerance and democracy, U.S. foreign policy in previous administrations has attempted to embrace Islamism without prejudice or distinction. The U.S. backed Islamists who feigned the pretense of democracy, such as Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi, and Syrian rebels.
There is a reflexive U.S. tendency to oppose Russian initiatives, which are frequently, though not always, damaging to U.S. interests. Quoting,
- Russia is our adversary, for various reasons that have entirely to do with aggression and subversion in Europe.
Through sloppy thinking, this tends to generalize to the assumption, left over from the Cold War, that Russia will inevitably pull a society down. Russia is a state of intermediate development. Whether a Russian intervention is likely to damage the development of a client state, or help it, depends upon the client’s development. In Venezuela, or Eastern Europe, Russia may do great harm. In Libya or Syria, there are no institutions to damage, although Russian tactics often cause large loss of life.
The battle for Tripoli hangs in balance. Haftar’s forces have exhibited uncoordinated movements, with losses in ambush. A low-tech army is plagued by the fog of war, not knowing the locations of one’s own units, as well as those of the enemy. Haftar’s demonstrated sympathy for the U.S. can be enhanced by the provision of a type of aid at which the U.S. is superlative, battlefield intelligence, gathered mainly via technical collections.
The taking of a city: John Toland’s The Last 100 Days (of the 3rd Reich), Part 3, chronicles how the Austrian resistance group “0-5” saved Vienna from total destruction by guiding Soviet troops around the German flank, through the Vienna Woods, and into the city from the rear.
These days it’s all technical.