Riyadh (GPA) – With Julian Assange’s arrest dominating the news cycle, you’d be forgiven for missing the chaos unfolding in Africa. However, major events in Libya and Sudan are taking place and, as no surprise, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are fanning the flames.
The Saudis Paid Khalifa Haftar to Launch the Tripoli Operation
Commander of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar, met with Mohammed bin Salman as well as the Saudi chief of intelligence and interior minister just days before launching the operation on April 4.
The Wall Street Journal reports that during their visit, Mohammed bin Salman promised Haftar “tens of millions of dollars” for the operation. Saudi officials spoke candidly to Wall Street Journal reporters about the cash exchange. The United States has also granted Haftar financial support over the past few months, despite supporting his rival UN-backed government publically.
“Haftar would not be a player today without the foreign support he has received,” Wolfram Lacher, a Libya expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs told the Wall Street Journal. “The last few months, pretty much everyone jumped on the Haftar train.”
Libya currently has two rival governments competing for power as well as dozens of smaller militias vying for local control. Khalifa Haftar, a US citizen and former CIA asset, allies with the eastern government near Tobruk. Meanwhile, the United Nations recognizes a different government led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj in the capital of Tripoli.
Libya has not seen peace since a NATO coalition led by the United States launched the violent overthrow of the late leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. Prior to the war, Libyans enjoyed the highest standard of living on the African continent. Today, local militias frequently fight over territory while African migrants are sold on street corners as slaves and others risk their lives fleeing across the Mediterranean into Europe.
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Gulf Kingdoms and Israel Prep for Power Transition in Sudan
At the beginning of March, Middle East Eye ran an exclusive report detailing secret meetings in Germany between the head of Israel’s Mossad, Yossi Cohen, and his Sudanese counterpart, Salah Gosh.
The then-current Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, was reportedly not made aware of such meetings.
During the talks, initiated by Israel’s Gulf allies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, officials went over Gosh’s potential assumption of power following Omar Bashir’s toppling due to protests.
An anonymous source told Middle East Eye, “Gosh has strong links with the Saudis, the Emiratis, and the Egyptians. They want Bashir out, and they want their man in his place.”
Western actors were not left out of the action. Gosh also met with European intelligence chiefs.
Just like Haftar, Gosh has a history as a CIA asset due to his spy work regarding al-Qaeda during the so-called War on Terror. According to a report from Africa Intelligence, the CIA had identified Gosh as the preferred successor to Bashir should the protests continue.
Somewhere along the line, plans for Gosh fell through and Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Burhan took his place as transitional leader after Bashir’s fallout and resignation last week.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates both quickly declared their approval for Sudan’s new leader with official statements. “The Kingdom declares its support for the steps announced by the Council in preserving the lives and property, and stands by the Sudanese people, and hopes that this will achieve security and stability for brotherly Sudan,” the Saudi official news agency SPA said Saturday. The UAE echoed a similar statement.
The Gulf kingdoms likely approved of Burhan due to his resume experience regarding Yemen. Burhan was the leading coordinator behind Sudanese deployment to Yemen.
At the beginning of the Saudi military campaign against Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Qatar took advantage of Sudan’s poor economic state and wired a total of $2.2 billion to Khartoum’s central bank in exchange for a steady supply of fighters. However, most of these fighters have served as nothing more than cannon fodder against experienced Yemeni troops.
Featured photo: Defense.gov