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A New Battle For Tripoli: Preconditions and Prospects

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A New Battle For Tripoli: Preconditions and Prospects

Libya has been in a state of the constant chaos since the NATO intervention in 2011. After the fall of the government of Muammar Gaddafi, the country fell into the hands of warrying armed factions, many of which were linked to radical Islamist groups. Al-Qaeda and then ISIS strengthened and expanded their presence in the country. The erupted humanitarian crisis has never been fully overcome. A high level of violence, crime and unsolved humanitarian issues turned Libya in one of the key hubs of arms, drugs and even trafficking. A large number of the refugees moving to Europe uses Libya as a transfer point.

NATO contributed very little efforts to change this situation, defeat terrorism and restore the order. One of the reasons is that the Western-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, is itself largely linked to radicals. Groups that declared their support to the GNA control a part of northwestern Libya. The only real anti-terror effort undertaken by pro-GNA forces and their foreign backers took place in 2016, when they moved to chuck ISIS out of the coastal city of Sirte. Despite this, ISIS cells kept a notable presence in the county. The GNA receives support from the US, various EU states, Qatar and Turkey.

The southwestern part of the country is controlled by local Tuareg and Tabu militias. Central, northeastern and southeastern Libya is in the hands of the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the allied to it House of Representatives based in the city of Torbuk.

Over the past few years, the LNA under the leadership of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar has consolidated control over a major part of the country, sometimes by forming pacts and alliances with local communities like in the south and sometimes by defeating radical militant groups by force. The LNA has also carried out a successful operation against militant and criminal groups in southern Libya. This effort was officially coordinated with the governments of Niger and Chad. Egypt, the UAE and France are often mentioned as the LNA backers. An interesting fact is that wilde media speculations about Russian mercenaries, Special Forces and, if we take into account the British mainstream media, even military bases allegedly deployed and created to support the LNA are barely linked with the reality on the ground. The real Kremlin involvement in the conflict has so far been mostly limited to diplomatic contacts with representatives of at least formally constructive local forces.

On April 4, Field Marshal Haftar officially announced a start of counter-terrorism operation in the area of Tripoli. In the following days, the LNA has made a series of advances capturing large areas south of the city, including Tripoli International Airport, and reached the vicinity of the city. According to local sources, over 40 people were killed or injured in clashes between the LNA and pro-GNA forces. The sides even employed their existing air forces in order to deliver strikes each against other.

However, a coalition of pro-GNA forces, which includes the al-Nuasi Brigade, the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, the Special Deterrence Force, the al-Mahjub Brigade, the 33rd Infantry Brigade, the Abu Obeida al-Zawia Forces, the al-Halbus Brigade and the Usama al-Juwayli Forces, appeared to be able showing some resistance to the LNA only when Haftar-led forces reached the city’s vicinity.

On April 7, the U.S. Army Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced that it had evacuated its troops from the Libyan capital “in response to the evolving security situation” there. This means that Washington expects clashes in the city itself.

The LNA claims that its move to capture Tripoli is not a part of political struggle, but an operation against terrorists who are hiding there. Nonetheless, it’s clear that the LNA advance is another move made in the framework of the previous LNA attempts to put an end to the division of the country into feods controlled by local warlords and to consolidate the governmental power, including the right of use of force, in one hands. In the event of success, it will allow to restore a kind of order in the major part of he country and to crack down on local militant and criminal armed groups that operate freely in the existing power vacuum.

On the other hand, the LNA advance faced a wide criticism on the international level. Foreign powers use the collapse of Libya to exploit its territory and energy resources in own favor are opposing the LNA actions under the banner of the need to defend democracy and prevent humanitarian crisis.

In the event of their success the humanitarian and security situation in Libya will likely continue to deteriorate creating a room for the further expansion of radical groups, first of all ISIS and al-Qaeda, in and contributing to the continuing flow of migrants to Europe.

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  • Barba_Papa

    In war it always has to get worse before it gets better. This is something peaceniks can’t seem to understand. It has to get worse, either because one side absolutely has to obliterate the other side in order to win so peace and rebuilding can happen. Or because one side absolutely has to hit rock bottom in order to accept defeat. So peace and rebuilding can happen. Humanitarian ceasefires and interventions look good on the 8’oclock news, and satiate the peacenik’s need for ‘something has to be done!’. But they only serve to delay the inevitable. And in doing so the war, any war will only last longer, killing more people and destroying more of a country in the process. In order for Libya to be at peace again one side has to win or make the other side see that resistance is futile. The sooner it gets done the better for everyone. Which means it has to get worse before it can get better.

    • Pave Way IV

      “…In war it always has to get worse before it gets better. This is something peaceniks can’t seem to understand…”

      But real ‘peaceniks’ desires or understanding are irrelevant in Libya. Chickenhawk neocons in the US and their Israeli, French and UK cronies specifically intended to create prolonged chaos and destruction in Libya unitl their chosen lackey takes over a now ruined, powerless, non-threatening state. Same plan used in Iraq and Syria. Fake ‘peaceniks’ are, at best, their unwitting lackeys in promoting an eternal conflict.

      I know there are some legitimate, sincere ‘peaceniks’ out there whose hearts are in the right place. FWIW, my experience here in the US is that many are just unintelligent, virtue-signaling f’king cowards today. They have no problem repeatedly turning a blind eye to the egregiously evil actions of our psychopathic leaders that leads to all this death and destruction. These ‘peaceniks of convenience’, however, are quick to cry about the inevitable inhumanity of war and demand and end to the fighting. Maybe if we just send in some UN peacekeepers and more tents for the refugee camps. And international humanitarian aid for the poor starving children.

      Why would these modern ‘peaceniks’ even want to understand the slippery slope of war? Just let it happen, and then step in to be humanitarian heros. Is it really lack of capability to understand, or willful lack of desire?

  • garwain

    Gaddafi turned Libya around from a third world disaster to the country with the highest standards in Africa, achieving this mainly by evicting the oil companies which had been plundering Libya’s natural resources. This stability continued for forty years. Enter western thieves and murderers intent on stealing Libya’s gold and oil reserves and installing the ubiquitous ‘central bank’. Gaddafi pointed out that Libya was ‘the cork in the bottle’ and it’s removal would result in floods of refugees invading Europe. QED. Thank you Clinton, Obama, Sarkozy et al…RIP a leader with real empathy for his people.

    • You can call me Al
      • Sinbad2

        The gold, they hunted for that convoy containing the gold with great dedication, as soon as they got the gold, they left Libya.

        The US is desperate for gold, but why, they allegedly have 8000 tons?

    • Barba_Papa

      Thing is though, if he hadn’t been a dictator, who also had a habit of torturing people who disagreed with him the Arab Spring would not have found fertile ground. The Empire does not consist of Omnipotent manipulating supermen. Or women. And transgenders, gotta be PC after all.
      Something had to be amiss in Gaddafi’s Libya that made the people there agreeable to the idea that ‘hmmmm, maybe we should get rid of him?’ You can’t foment an uprising overnight. There has to be fertile ground.

      • garwain

        Hmm.. US has no history of torture? ISIS nothing to do with Obama or McCain? Fake news nothing to do with demonising Gaddafi for underhand western motives?

        • Barba_Papa

          It’s not about how evil The Empire is. I think we are in agreement on that. The point I am trying to make is that these color revolutions would not have happened if the people leading those countries weren’t A: repressive autocrats and B: doing something wrong with the economy. Something had to be amiss in Libya, because people who feel they are getting a fair share of the economy are not people who go on rioting in the streets. No amount of Empire propaganda will make that happen.

      • Sinbad2

        Yes the US used to send prisoners to Libya to be tortured.
        It was one of the conditions the US set for ending the sanctions the US imposed on Libya for the Lockerbie bombing. Of course Libya did not carry out the Lockerbie bombing, the US simply framed Libya.

        America is the heart of evil in this world, all others including people like Pol Pot are angels compared to the evil that dwells in the USA.

  • abuqahwa

    Excellent concise summary by SF – last two paras are the key – foreign intervention to prop up GNA will prolong and intensify the war, especially if LNA cannot isolate and defeat the Misrata forces.

  • Thunder

    i have had time to look deeper into this i have changed to side with haftar for now i have investigated the gov in tripoli and found them wanting human slave trade violence unchecked even racism i hope you do better general

  • Thunder

    i was told you would not bomb tripoli with your numbers and experiance haftar you should just march into tripoli instead of making your brothers and sisters suffer anymore then they already have,i have foreseen it will backfire on you if you lose the people’s support and bombing them will make them hate you.Then you must deal with the aftermath whether you will be loved or hated this you know general.

  • cechas vodobenikov

    Gadaffi was a brilliant leader–obviously admired by Anthony Giddens, who improved conditions enormously for ordinary people—this is why the amerikans, brits and French had to destroy Libya

  • Davki

    Mainstream media like RT? Gaddafi wasn’t so great as the simpletons want him to be. Sure, at some point he was outspoken; but he never advanced his country. Bourguiba, the former Tunisian dictator was once accused by Gaddafi of educating his people because like that, they would at some day make a revolution. Bourguiba responded: I would rather have an educated people revolt than an uneducated. The results are clear: Tunisia is the only democracy in the area, whereas Libya is a shambles.