America, until now the key backer of the GNA, has fallen away. The new administration of President Donald Trump has yet to give definitive comments on Libya, but is expected to designate Muslim Brotherhood, one of the key factions in the GNA, as a terrorist organisation. As such, that would rub out any US support for the GNA and leave it floundering, and both Al Sarraj and Haftar know it. Whereas the erstwhile administration of former US president Barack Obama viewed Muslim Brotherhood as a positive non-violent expression of Islamism, Trump officials view it with suspicion, accusing it of links with violent groups. Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has long made combatting Muslim Brotherhood his cause celebre. Yet, it is likely to suffer if the US designates it as a group supporting terrorism. Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, used his confirmation hearing last month to equate Brotherhood with Al Qaida: “The demise of IS [Daesh, or the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] would also allow us to devote our attention to other agents of radicalism like Al Qaida, Muslim Brotherhood and certain elements within Iran”.
A military leadership will never take hold of Libya” Belhaj told Middle East Eye. “Haftar has no chance at ruling this country at all and the coming days will attest to this”.Belhaj, who heads the al-Watan Party, is based in Tripoli where the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) has held power since December 2015. But the GNA’s authority faces huge challenges. Egypt-allied Haftar and the head of the Presidential Council of the GNA, Fayez Al-Sarraj, met in Cairo earlier this week as part of a series of Tunisian-Algerian-Egyptian initiatives aimed at resolving Libya’s crisis. Although Sarraj and Haftar refused to meet face-to-face, they agreed to honor a plan to create a joint committee to negotiate reconciliation and elections by February 2018, despite lingering tensions. The discussions revolved around forming a mini-government that would have a unified military council headed by Haftar in cooperation with military officers from all across Libya. The initiative reportedly gathered support from Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, three countries that have over the past months been involved in mediation efforts focused on launching a Libya-Libya dialogue for national reconciliation. Despite the combined pressure from Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt to resume peace talks, the political process is unlikely to move forward in the foreseeable future because on the one hand Haftar is convinced he doesn’t need a deal and the other side is very fragmented.