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Qatar calls for arms embargo on Haftar forces in Libya

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani is also deputy prime minister of Qatar [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 April, 2019

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Qatar has condemned an offensive on the Libyan capital by rogue general Khalifa Haftar.

Qatar has called for an arms embargo on Libyan militia commander Khalifa Haftar who has launched a fierce offensive on Tripoli, according to Italian media.

Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani called for a boycott of the militia leader on Tuesday and demanded the rogue general end his assault on the capital, which has left at least 150 people dead.

Thani was asked by La Repubblica newspaper in Italy on Tuesday, how the latest fighting in Libya could be ended.

"By rendering effective the embargo against Haftar and preventing those countries that have supplied him with munitions and state-of-the-art weapons from continuing to do so," he responded. 

He also blamed Haftar squarely for the recent surge in violence in Libya.

"The actions of the militias led by Haftar in Libya are foremost in hindering international efforts to achieve a Libyan national dialogue," he tweeted, according to Reuters.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said during a meeting with al-Thani that the international community should pressure both Haftar and Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of the internationally-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli to end the fighting and begin peace talks.

"We want an immediate cease-fire and we hope for the withdrawal of the (Haftar) forces," Conte said, according to Famagusta Gazette

"We believe that dialogue is the only plausible and sustainable way forward…and we are working towards an inclusive solution under the aegs of the UN."

"It would be reductive and simplistic to paint a picture of the Libyan situation that only includes Haftar and Sarraj," Conte said.

"There are foreign global players that are weighing strongly in this situation."

The global powers Conte was referring to include a myriad of countries who have given material or political support to Haftar, who now controls eastern Libya, and other parts of the west following recent offensives.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are said to have been bankrolling Haftar's offensive on Tripoli, which was launched on 4 April.

Russia has also reportedly sent mercenaries to help the militia leader and Egypt backing him with air strikes, while France has been accused of supporting Haftar diplomatically.

Qatar and Turkey - arch-regional rivals of the UAE and Saudi Arabia - have been accused of providing lesser support to the UN-backed GNA in Libya. 

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt launched a blockade on Qatar in 2017, accusing the Gulf state of "sponsoring terrorist groups", charges Doha strongly denies.

Qatar has accused the UAE and Saudi Arabia of supporting counter-revolutionary groups and dictators in the region, since an outpouring of pro-democracy protests in the Middle East during the 2011 Arab Spring.

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