Libya warlord Haftar and sons deny taking sides in Sudan power struggle

Libya warlord Haftar and sons deny taking sides in Sudan power struggle
Al-Siddiq - one of Libyan general Khalifa Haftar's less well-known sons - has denied holding political talks with RSF leader Hemedti.
2 min read
24 April, 2023
Benghazi's military strongman Khalifa Haftar has been quick to distance himself from taking sides in Sudan [Getty images]

The son of rogue Libyan general Khalifa Haftar has denied taking sides in Sudan's escalating civil conflict, after he met with Rapid Support Forces (RSF) chief General Hamdan Dagalo during a visit to Sudan in early April. 

Siddiq Haftar, the eldest son of eastern Libya's military strongman, has sworn that his meeting with Dagalo - also known as Hemedti - was "not of a political nature". 

Siddiq claimed during an interview with Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that he was in Sudan to fulfil his role as honorary president of Omdurman’s al-Merrikh SC football team. 

The latest allegation linking the Haftar family to Hemedti's militia has drawn swift denial from both Benghazi and Sudan's armed forces, who are engaged in a bitter conflict with the RSF. 

"Commander of the Libyan National Army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, confirmed to me in a phone call that the #LNA did not provide any support to the RSF," Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan told Al-Arabiya TV.

Live Story

Haftar’s officials have also rejected the claims in recent days.

"We were, are and will continue to support the stability and security of the State of Sudan and the safety of its authentic Arab-African people," said Khalifa Haftar in a statement read out by officials last week.

"We are currently conducting urgent contacts with the concerned parties, and we are ready to play a mediating role between the brothers in Sudan to stop the fighting immediately and open the way for peaceful dialogue," he said.

American officials have privately alleged that Hemedti has been offered weaponry by Haftar at the behest of Russia’s mercenary organisation, the Wagner Group.

Reports in US media trying to portray Haftar as the conduit between the RSF and the Wagner Group cite satellite footage showing increased activity between Syria's coastal city of Latakia - where Russia has a significant military presence - and Haftar's base of Khadim in Libya. 

Libyan analysts have been quick to note that pre-existing smuggling networks between Libya and Sudan should not necessarily be viewed as de-facto military support and political alignment. 

"Those looking at the Libya nexus should know Haftar's LAAF operates as a quasi-criminal enterprise, & Kufra is a key node for LAAF smuggling activities into/via Sudan," tweeted Emadeddin Badi. 

It is, according to Badi, "important to differentiate between pre-existing smuggling activities vs security assistance to Sudan's RSF". 

Russia has also reportedly recruited Syrians to join the eastern Libyan militia, which has been at war with UN-recognised government forces.