Last week, Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar met with the heads of various eastern Libyan tribes in the LNA headquarters of Rajmah in Benghazi. He expressed to the leaders his concerns about the lack of progress towards a House of Representatives (HoR) ratification of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) — which faces a 17 December 2017 deadline to be ratified lest it lose international validity. Haftar proposed a non-negotiated solution that would sidestep a process of potential amendment to the LPA, which had gained some momentum after the meeting between Haftar and the Government of National Accord (GNA) prime minister Fayez al-Serraj in the UAE weeks ago. Haftar stated that although he is focused on his role as commander of the army, he will do “what is necessary” to reach a political agreement.
The Rajmah meetings should be interpreted in the greater context of recent moves towards a rapprochement between eastern Federalists and Haftar. Haftar, an ardent nationalist and military pragmatist, has so far been doggedly opposed to all notions of federalism, insisting on the military ‘liberation of Tripoli’ as a key military objective, an objective which seems to have been regionally and internationally rejected. That said, recent talk of his role as ‘emir’ of Barqa in a federal Libyan Political Process based on the federal Libyan constitution of 1951 seems to be gaining some traction.