|Khalifa Belqasim Haftar|
|Allegiance|| Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
|Service/branch||Libyan Ground Forces|
|Battles/wars||Chadian–Libyan conflict (1978–1987)
Libyan civil war
Battle of Ajdabiya
Third Battle of Brega
Khalifa Belqasim Haftar (sometimes spelled Hifter, Hefter or Huftur, Arabic: خليفة بالقاسم حفتر; born ca. 1943) is a senior military officer in Libya. In April 2011, he was reported as holding the rank of major general. Although born in and primarily active in Libya, he spent nearly two decades in the United States and is a US citizen.
Haftar was born in Ajdabiya circa 1943, and is a member of the al-Farjani tribe. He graduated from the Benghazi Military Academy and then went on to receive military training in the Soviet Union.
Early years in the Gaddafi government
Haftar assisted Gaddafi in the overthrow of Libya's King Idris in 1969. Like other members of the Free Unionist Officers (the junta that toppled the monarchy), Haftar was a secularist and a Nasserist. He was a member of the Revolutionary Command Council which governed Libya in the immediate aftermath of the civil war. Haftar later became Gaddafi's military chief of staff.
War with Chad
In 1986, he had attained the rank of colonel, and was then the chief officer in command of Gaddafi's military forces in Chad in the Chadian–Libyan conflict. During the war, in which the Libyan forces were either captured or driven back across the border, Haftar and 600-700 of his men were captured as prisoners of war, and incarcerated in 1987 after their defeat in the Battle of Maaten al-Sarra. Shortly after this disastrous battle, Gaddafi disavowed Haftar and the other Libyan prisoners of war captured by Chad. One possible contributing factor to Gaddafi's repudiation of Haftar and of other captured prisoners of war may have been the fact that Gaddafi had earlier signed an agreement to withdraw all Libyan forces from Chad, and Haftar's operations inside of Chad had been in violation of this agreement. Another possible reason given for Gaddafi's abandonment of Haftar was the potential that Haftar might return to Libya as a hero and thus pose a threat to Gaddafi's rule itself. In any event, Gaddafi's repudiation clearly served to embitter Haftar towards Gaddafi.
Opposition to Gaddafi
After several years of incarceration and eventual release, and after an American CIA negotiated settlement around 1990, he and several of his former affiliates moved to the United States, where they were ostensibly trained by the CIA in Langley, Virginia.
Role in the Libyan Civil War
In 2011, he returned to Libya to support the Libyan Civil War. In March, a military spokesperson announced that Haftar had been appointed commander of the military, but the National Transitional Council denied this. By April, Abdul Fatah Younis held the role of commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, Omar El-Hariri serving as Younis' Chief of Staff and Haftar took the third most senior position as the commander of ground forces with the rank of lieutenant general. Younis was assassinated later that summer.
Efforts to dissolve the GNC
In February 2014 Haftar appeared in a televised announcement, announcing that the Libyan GNC had been dissolved. His announcement was soon dismissed with great skepticism by the then acting Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, describing the apparent coup attempt as "ridiculous".
Operation Dignity: Three months later on 16 May in Operation Dignity, Haftar re-emerged with a much stronger hand, directing a combined air and ground assault against the pro-Islamic militias of Benghazi, as well as a sustained heavy weapons attack against the Libyan parliament. At the time of the Benghazi assault Haftar, who is no stranger to assassination attempts on his life, reportedly explained to a friend that he was fully aware of the personal safety risks that naturally attend such military adventures. On 20 May 2014, four days after the Benghazi assault, the GNC announced that it had finally scheduled the long postponed elections that were meant to result in the dissolution of the GNC and its replacement by a new representative assembly, to be known as the House of Representatives. These elections were scheduled for 25 June 2014.
Later in May, after having been ousted from office by the General National Congress (GNC), Ali Zeidan then endorsed Operation Dignity, along with 40 members of parliament, and the heads of the navy, the air-force, and much of the army. In June 2014, a suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle at Haftar's residence in Benghazi, killing 4 people and injuring at least 3 others. Haftar was not injured in the attack.
In eastern Libya Haftar's air and ground forces remained in place, and seemed to be gaining general support. Over the course of May and June numerous pro Operation Dignity marches were held throughout Libya, and in the June 25 elections, the secularists gained a clear mandate over and against the Islamist agenda. Meanwhile, despite its initial denouncement of Operation Dignity in May, Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani's administration has since continued to give no word of any further official endorsement or denouncement of Haftar's Operation Dignity. Haftar remains resolute that one of the aims of Operation Dignity is to completely dismantle the Libyan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as what he considers to be any other Islamist terrorist organizations within Libya.
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- Libyan army, ex-rebels clash near airport
- Oakes, John (30 May 2014). "Karama – Some Notes On Khalifa Hafter's Operation Dignity". Libya Stories. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
- Libya announces elections: Will it help calm the violence?
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- "40 Libyan MPs pledge support to renegade general Haftar". Istanbul, Turkey: Worldbulletin News. 25 May 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
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- Libyan poll sees Islamists losing
- Actually, There Are a Bunch of Benghazi Conspiracies
- Liberating Libya: General Vows to Crush Terrorists
- Libya: The Djava Khalifa Haftar movement, whose founding leader is reportedly a soldier named Khalifah Haftar, who currently in exile in the United States (May 2006), Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, LBY101307.FE, accessed 19 October 2013, citing Haftar's previous anti-regime activities and subsequent exile