President Trump sparked protests in Libya after praising a military-opposition leader in what appears to be a reversal in U.S. policy.
According to the White House, President Trump spoke on Monday with Khalifa Haftar, a rogue military general who is currently leading troops to take over the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.
The President recognized “Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources” and discussed ongoing counter-terrorism efforts and a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a democratic political system.
Aljazeera reports that the comments incited anger in Libya’s capital as residents perceived President Trump’s call as an endorsement of Haftar’s military offensive.
Trump’s comments also contradict the U.S. State Department. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “We have made clear that we oppose the military offensive by Khalifa Haftar’s forces and urge the immediate halt to these military operations against the Libyan capital.”