A Libyan leader jumps on Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’

Libya, a country that was listed in Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban,’ has its own immigration ban on six Muslim-majority nations. General Khalifa Haftar, the most powerful figure in Libya today, is the man behind this controversial order.

Reuters: Reuters
Reuters: Reuters

Thousands of immigrants from Muslim-majority nations in Africa and the Middle East have travelled to Libya since 2011. The recent 'Muslim ban' is aimed at curbing illegal immigration into the country.

Updated Apr 19, 2017

The Libyan immigration ban

The ban which applies to nationals from Yemen, Sudan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran and Syria was put into effect last week by Khalifa Haftar, whose forces control most of the oil-rich North African country of Libya.

Khalifa Haftar, who leads Libya’s National Army (LNA), like Trump, has raised illegal immigration and security concerns as the reason for effectively forbidding them from setting foot on Libyan soil under the control of his Tobruk-based government.

"Large numbers of travellers, especially Syrians and Pakistanis, do not hold residency permits or visas," the order reads.


Dated April 4, the immigration order is provided by the al Abraq Airport branch of Afriqiyah Airways. The order quotes a "decree from the General Commander of the Libyan army.”

Al Abraq is one of two airports in Libya that currently accepts international flights.

Captain Munir al-Hamam, assistant to the head of passport control in al Abraq International Airport outside Tobruk, confirmed the existence and validity of the report to Libya’s al-Wasat News.

Security concerns behind the immigration ban

Since the 2011 uprising, security issues have persisted in the north African country.

A major nation-wide split remains as the power battle between the Tripoli-based Misrata militias in western Libya and Haftar’s LNA is still far from being resolved.

The LNA clashed with Libya's Daesh branch in the central region of Sirte in November 2016. Insecurity across the country in key cities such as Benghazi, Tripoli and Dernah.

“Daesh, the Muslim Brotherhood in Tripoli, and the Misrata militias who control Mitiga airport are bringing foreign fighters from across the Muslim world," said Major Mohammed Alboushi of the LNA, who is also a member of the UN Libya delegation.

“Most of these people come under the auspices of being workers, but we know that they are fighters coming here for one purpose only,” he claimed.

Haftar loyalists claim that they are under direct threat because of the flow of foreign fighters at a close proximity to the LNA stronghold in Tobruk.

“Most of these terrorists from Syria and South Asia are brought through al Abraq Airport which is around 20 km from Tobruk, so the ban is aimed at limiting this massive security breach we are facing in Libya today,” he said.

Still after the ban, a bloody power struggle continues in Libya where the concept of peace remains an elusive oasis in a war-torn Saharan landscape.

General Haftar’s Role in Libya

In November 2016, the LNA clashed with Libya's Daesh branch in the central region of Sirte. Insecurity is still widespread in key cities including Tripoli, Benghazi and Derna.

Haftar has been championed as the man challenging Daesh in Libya as well as the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated militias of Misrata and their General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.

“Haftar is the only option left for Libya, without him Libya will be lost forever,” said Alboushi.

The majority of key cities in Libya are situated across the north coast, stretching from Tobruk in the east to Tripoli in the west of the country.

“The LNA and allied forces are strongly present in the east around Benghazi, in the south around  Al Jawf and Ash Shuwayrif  as well as in the west, in the outskirts of Tripoli,” he said.

Haftar and his army also control Libya’s Oil Crescent after seizing key oil terminals in Zueitnina, Brega, Ras Lanouf and Sidrah from the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) in September 2016.

Haftar enjoys the support of many in Libya who see him as a force of stability that can re-unite the country.

Consolidating his grip on the country through force, astute military strategy and immigration bans, will Haftar prove to be the solution or a hindrance to a peaceful and democratic Libya?

Author: Achment Gonim

TRTWorld and agencies