Uncertain peace in Libya despite the end of the “Battle of Tripoli”

Fighters from forces loyal to the government of national accord, after the resumption of Tarhuna, in Libya, on June 5, 2020.
Fighters from forces loyal to the government of national accord, after the resumption of Tarhuna, in Libya, on June 5, 2020. AYMAN AL-SAHILI / REUTERS

Analysis. The militarist adventure of Marshal Khalifa Haftar in Libya, made up in struggle, is over “Anti-terrorist”. The boss of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (ANL), rebel to the authority of the government of Tripoli, lost Friday, June 5, his last stronghold near the capital, epilogue of a calamitous series of setbacks in Tripolitania (west) wiped in cascade for a month. The forces loyal to the government of national agreement (GAN) of Faïez Sarraj, recognized by the United Nations, have taken up again in Tarhouna, residual stronghold of the dissident marshal in western Libya, located 80 km south-east of Tripoli . The day before, ANL units had to evacuate the last urban pockets (Qasr Bin Gashir) in the wake of the loss of the (non-functioning) international airport.

A troubled streak in Libyan post-2011 history has just ended. It will have lasted precisely fourteen months. Started on April 4, 2019, the assault on Tripoli unleashed by Haftar, ex-close to the “Guide” Muammar Gaddafi who became an exiled opponent in the United States before joining the 2011 insurgency in Benghazi, will have illustrated the attempt to restore a regime military against the ideals of the “Arab Spring” wave.

First despised by Western chancelleries for his rough adventurism, Haftar knew how to return to grace from the moment he conquered the Oil Crescent – arc of crude export terminals – in autumn 2016 then liquidated the jihadist nuclei of Benghazi the same year under a deluge of fire.

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Master of petroleum and “anti-terrorism”, Haftar has thus attracted the growing interest of Western capitals – Paris in the first rank – while the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt encouraged him with supplies of weapons or funding to open up to Cyrenaica (east) to set out to conquer all of Libya. In Tripoli, Faïez Sarraj, installed by the United Nations but hostage to predatory militias – more criminal than ideological – will hardly have had the leisure to impose his authority. Very quickly, he encountered a formal torpedoing of the institutional process orchestrated by Haftar.

Turkish-Russian sovereignty

After pretending to enter into a dialogue with Sarraj under the auspices of the French (La Celle-Saint-Cloud summits in 2017 and then the Elysée in 2018) and the Italians (Palermo summit in 2018), Marshal Haftar has shown his real intentions by attacking Tripoli in April 2019 under the false pretext of “Release” the capital of “Terrorist militias”. This military tragedy lasted just over a year. Where his supporters expected to see a jubilant population welcoming him as a savior, the majority of residents of Tripolitania joined forces to stop a team with fairly transparent dictatorial ambitions. A sign that a revolution did take place in this country in 2011, a detail that some capitals had seemed to forget.

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