US-based news website Al Monitor has revealed that Democrats are calling for sanctions on the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar amid concerns that the Donald Trump administration has been too soft on him as he continues his monthslong assault on Tripoli.
Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., called on the Trump administration to sanction Haftar under a 2017 Russia sanctions law due to claims of the support his forces receive from the Wagner Group, which has strong ties to the Kremlin.
Murphy also sent a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking for a “comprehensive summary” of US efforts to counter Russian influence in Libya and a “detailed analysis” of the relationship between Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the Wagner Group.
According to Al Monitor, the letter also inquires as to whether that relationship could trigger mandatory sanctions under CAATSA, “which mandates secondary sanctions on those who conduct significant transactions with the Russian defense and intelligence sectors.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Senator for Virginia, Tim Kaine, accused the Trump administration of sending “mixed messages” on Libya, noting that the United States joined Russia last year to block a British-backed UN Security Council resolution that blamed Haftar for an airstrike on a detention center that killed dozens of African migrants.
Kaine called on the Trump administration to send an “unequivocally loud and clear” message that the United States supports Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord based in Tripoli.
Al Monitor said US Congress’ increased scrutiny of the Wagner Group’s role in the Libya war comes as the Government of National Accord steps up its lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill via the Government of National Accord’s public relations firm Mercury Public Affairs, which launched a full-court press in Washington last month to justify its defense pact with Turkey against Haftar.