European officials as well as UN-backed leadership in Tripoli have both confirmed and angrily denounced President Trump's recent sharp reversal of longstanding US policy which recognized only the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) as the legitimate authority over Libya, with Fayez al-Sarraj as prime minister. The UN, UK and others have long backed Sarraj, while the UAE, Egypt, and France have been vocal supporters of Haftar.
Late last week the White House had shocked European allies in announcing that President Trump had spoken by phone to offer support to Benghazi based commander Kalifa Haftar, at a moment his Libyan National Army (LNA) lays siege to the capital.
The White House statement at the time said Trump “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.”
A prior personal call to Haftar by US National Security Adviser John Bolton had also left Haftar with the impression that he'd had a "green light" for his ongoing offensive to secure the capital, which began April 4, and has involved shelling and air power used over civilian areas.
EU officials have this week urged President Trump to reverse his surprise declaration of US support for Haftar's LNA. European officials have further demanded greater clarity of the United States' position on Libya, saying Washington's policy confusion will only add fuel to the chaos, similar to recent contradictory US statements on Syria.
According to The Guardian:
EU officials greeted Trump’s remarks with disbelief and a fear that the White House had accepted a joint interpretation of the war by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia that underplayed its complexity.
As Bloomberg reports further this week, the revelation of official US support to the renegade General Haftar came soon after a meeting between Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on April 9.
Sisi has long been known as a backer of Haftar, alongside the UAE and France.
Libyan PM Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the internationally-recognised government in #Tripoli, has denounced France for supporting rival Khalifa #Haftar, underlining the growing diplomatic tensions over fighting there. https://t.co/zGzTUb5i81— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 24, 2019
Since early April fighting around Tripoli between Gen. Khalifa Haftar's advancing LNA and the UN-backed GNA has resulted in 264 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and some 1,266 people wounded, with 21 among the deceased civilians.
No doubt, Trump's support to Haftar will likely result in a protracted new civil war, given the LNA at this point is unlikely to back down, even if it stalls south of Tripoli, as some recent reports suggest.