Libya’s eastern-based government has followed regional allies in cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, its foreign minister, Mohamed Dayri, said on Monday. The government, which sits in the eastern city of Bayda, has little authority within Libya. It is appointed by a parliament that also sits in the east and is aligned with powerful military commander Khalifa Haftar. They have spurned a UN-backed, internationally recognised government in the capital, Tripoli.
The eastern-based government’s announcement came after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Dayri gave no immediate explanation for the Libyan move.
Regional powers have sided with opposing camps that have vied for power in Libya since the 2011 uprising that toppled veteran strongman leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Egypt and the UAE are considered key supporters of Haftar, who has built his position battling Islamist militants and other opponents in eastern Libya. East Libyan authorities accuse Qatar of backing rival, Islamist-leaning factions in western Libya.
Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has gained ground in central and southern Libya since last year, taking control of oil facilities and military bases. Most recently they have advanced near oasis towns in the Jufra and Sabha regions.