Rumours of French military intervention in Libya have abounded for some time; France was a key member of the NATO coalition that helped to topple the Gaddafi regime in 2011, and reports indicate that the country's armed forces may still be playing some role in the civil war. But to what benefit? Why would France want to involve itself in another foreign entanglement, and, more to the point, why would it want to back someone like Khalifa Haftar, a warlord whose broad LNA coalition also includes Salafist elements. The answer might be Total.
Total S.A. is a French multinational oil & gas company headquartered in Paris. Founded in 1924, it is considered one of the 7 "Supermajor" oil companies in the world, with a declared revenue of over $209 billion in 2018 and a long history of controversies. Total S.A. has long played a role in the Libyan petroleum industry, one that expanded last year, when the company purchased a 16.33% stake in Libya's Waha Concessions for $450 million. Total S.A. stated that this acquisition would give the company access to reserves & resources in excess of 500 million barrels of oil, with immediate production of 50k barrels per day, and exploration access to 53k square km. covered by the concession in the Sirte basin.
In order to profit from their significant investments in Libya, Total S.A. needs security & and access to port terminals, many of which are in the east - an area under the control of the Libyan National Army - so a basic understanding between France & Haftar would be expected. But why go further than that? Why supply the LNA with modern weaponry and get more deeply involved in the civil war? It's highly probable that, compared to the fractious & militia-driven GNA in Tripoli, the Macron government feels Haftar is the best bet for Libya's security; a strongman figure who can keep the lid on the violence, at least enough so that the oil flows uninterrupted.
Looks like Total S.A. has total control over France's foreign policy in Libya.