By Libya Herald reporters.
Benghazi/Dubai, 13 November 2017:
Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter has flown to the UAE to attend the Dubai Air Show. There was no official announcement about the trip from the Libyan National Army’s media office, although he has appeared on TV being welcomed to the show by the UAE’s vice president and prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. He also had separate talks on the sidelines of the show with the UAE deputy prime minister Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
It is Hafter’s third visit to the UAE in six months. He was there in May to meet with Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj and then in July when he had talks with Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and the UAE armed forces’ deputy supreme commander. The talks were about boosting military collaboration.
The current visit comes in the wake of the dramatic events of the past three days following the second attempted assassination in Benghazi on Friday of the Presidency Council’s deputy interior minister Faraj Al-Gaem. Gaem, who survived the attack although two security guards were reportedly killed, accused Hafter of being behind the attack and gave him 48 hours to leave the city. That was followed on Saturday with an LNA raid on the interior ministry’s buildings in the city and an attempt to arrest Gaem in his home town of Berses, 50 kilometres east of Benghazi, to which he was said to have fled.
It has been reported that Gaem was taken into custody, but this has been denied by a senior LNA official. Gaem and his family are said to be in hiding somewhere near Benghazi.
Hafter’s apparently unscheduled visit to the UAE is seen as directly linked to the events, with suggestions that he is showing that he is not affected by them and that he can do as he chooses. An alternative suggestion is that he is keeping away from events in Benghazi to allow them develop without him seeing to be involved.