Libyan warlord and rogue commander Khalifa Haftar has hired former politicians to lobby for him in the United States, documents from the Justice Department outlined by the Wall Street Journal have revealed.
According to the filings from the Foreign Agents Registration Act dated 3 September, Haftar has agreed to pay a total of around $960,000 over a period of six months to hire the lobbying services of former politicians in Washington, DC.
The former diplomats are reportedly Lanny Davis, who was the special counsel to former US President Bill Clinton, and the former Republican House lawmaker Robert Livingston. The documents reveal that Haftar made an advance payment of $40,000 to the two, retaining their lobbying services as he attempts to rebuild his reputation in Washington.
Following the defeat of his Libyan National Army (LNA) forces last year and the former internationally-recognised Libyan government’s pushback of the LNA’s offensive on the capital Tripoli, Haftar has been deemed by many of his backers in Western nations as a failed cause and spent force.
The Libyan warlord, who still retains power in eastern Libya, reportedly seeks to reconstruct his reputation and viability amongst potential partners within the international community.
READ: What is Haftar up to in Libya?
According to the documents, Davis and Livingstone plan to arrange Haftar’s meetings with officials from across the US political scene including from the White House, Pentagon, State Department and Congress. Meetings are also to be arranged with US-based think tanks such as the Center for American Progress and the United States Institute of Peace.
Following Haftar’s military defeat and the ensuing Libyan peace process, a unity government was formed and announced earlier this year, which was supposed to bring together the divided west and east of the country. Despite Haftar vowing to make peace and join the process, last month he changed his mind and stated that he and his forces would not submit to any authority in Libya.
The strongman is also running for the position of president in the upcoming elections in December this year, which the documents report is one of the primary reasons he has assigned Davis and Livingstone to lobby for him and regain his reputation.
Haftar – a US citizen – remains a highly controversial figure both in Libya and the West. He and his militias have been accused of committing numerous war crimes, with mass graves still being uncovered across the warlord’s former territory.
Victims’ families have turned to US courts in an attempt to hold him to account for his crimes and requested the US government initiate criminal proceedings against Haftar for “his numerous violations of international and US domestic law.” The lawsuits seek millions of dollars in damages that could be recovered from property that Haftar and his family still own throughout northern Virginia.
READ: Are the people of Libya ready to decide their future?