Libya is coming apart again — though of course it was never put back together in the first place after NATO’s regime change war to topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 in the first place. Since then it’s been a jihadist wasteland of three, or at times up to four, competing governments vying for control of land and resources.
And now, as Bloomberg reports this week “Libya’s most powerful warlord has his sights on the capital” of Tripoli and “even his international backers are nervous.” Who are Khalifa Haftar’s international backers? He was for a couple decades believed to be on the CIA’s payroll while living in suburban Virginia outside Washington, D.C. in exile during Gaddafi’s rule. He’s also financed by the UAE and quickly emerged as a main player collecting the spoils in the aftermath of the US-French-NATO bombing campaign in support of the rebels.
Based in Libya’s oil-rich east, Haftar’s militia has already captured much of the country’s oil resources, especially after a successful blitz to take much of the south this year.
And now he reportedly has his eye on the capital of Tripoli in the west — home to the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and Libya’s state-run National Oil Corporation, which when combined with small subsidiaries under its direction accounts for some 70% of the country’s oil output.
But has an increasingly powerful Haftar gone rogue, outside the bounds of his international political and financial backers? Or is he actually the external brokers’ “solution” to impose order after years of post-Gaddafi chaos? Are we witnessing the rise of Libya’s new strongman — a Gaddafi 2.0 who will be amendable to western and gulf interests?
Bloomberg reports the growing alarm of his international backers:
Alarmed, international powers are clamoring to avert a military showdown that could rattle global oil markets and sow further chaos in a divided country already struggling to defeat Islamic State and stem the flow of migrants toward Europe.
The UAE has reportedly tried to intervene with Haftar, urging him to put on the brakes and negotiate a power sharing situation, but to no avail.
Haftar’s forces, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA), have continued bulldozing their way across the country at lightning pace:
But Haftar has continued to indicate that an offensive on Tripoli is looming, according to three Western diplomats who declined to be named. Rumors his self-styled Libyan National Army …read more