Saddam Haftar, the son of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, made a secret visit to Israel to ask for “military and diplomatic assistance”, last week according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The son of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar made a secret visit to Israel last week, according to a report published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Sunday.
A private French-made Dassault Falcon jet carrying Saddam Haftar landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv after taking off from Dubai last Monday, Haaretz reported.
It remained at the airport for 90 minutes before travelling on to Libya, according to the Israeli newspaper.
The Haaretz report said that Khalifa and Saddam Haftar were “seeking military and diplomatic assistance from Israel”.
Until 2020, two rival governments controlled Libya – an internationally recognised one based in the capital Tripoli and a rival government allied with Khalifa Haftar based in Tobruk in eastern Libya.
A peace deal was signed in October 2020 and a new Government of National Unity was established on an interim basis. Presidential and parliamentary elections are due to be held on December 24.
Khalifa Haftar, whose forces still control most of eastern Libya, has continually challenged the authority of the Government of National Unity and its prime minister, Abdel Hamid Dbeibah.
However, Haaretz reported that the Haftars have ambitions to head the government that controls Libya following the elections and are offering Israel diplomatic ties in exchange for military and diplomatic assistance.
During his conflict with the Tripoli-based internationally recognised Libyan government prior to October 2020, Khalifa Haftar received support from Russia, the UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, as well as covertly from France.
Haaretz said that it was not clear who the younger Haftar met on his reported visit to Ben-Gurion Airport, but said that Khalifa Haftar had previously had contacts with the Tevel department of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, which is responsible for secret contacts with entities Israel does not have diplomatic relations with.
It added that in the run-up to the elections, Saddam Haftar has been receiving assistance from PR companies and advisors based in France and the UAE, saying that “unconfirmed reports” suggested that Haftar’s representatives are working at a firm based in the UAE with Israelis.
Israel and the UAE normalised ties in September 2020 and since then have signed a wide-ranging array of cooperation agreements in various fields.
The Haaretz report said that while Khalifa Haftar’s chances of leading the next government were “slim” due to his advanced age, fragile health and accusations of war crimes against him, his son Saddam stood a better chance, even though he led a lavish lifestyle which suggested that he was “tainted with corruption”.