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”.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi stressed that his country supports the Syrian Arab army in the face of the terrorist organizations, underlining the necessity of dealing seriously with the terrorists and disarming them. Speaking in an interview with the Portuguese TV on Tuesday, President el-Sisi said supporting the national armies of countries is priority for Egypt including in Libya, Iraq and Syria. He reiterated that a political solution to the crisis in Syria is the best solution, indicating at the same time that it is important to deal seriously with the terrorist groups and work on disarming them.