FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar Moves on Tripoli

The richly disastrous mess that is Libya has been moving into another phase of inspired aggression at the hands of General Khalifa Haftar.  As he does, UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj is anxious.  For some three weeks, the General’s eastern forces, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA) have been edging towards the capital of the fractured state in a hope to remove the “remaining terrorist groups” in the region.

The government of national accord (GNA) is not getting the voices of support in foreign capitals it might have once enjoyed. In early April, Al-Sarraj was keen to stress his view on how Libya would return to a state of strife-free normalcy. “We will not give up our principles and peaceful solutions to reach a civil state, to ensure that totalitarian rule or militarisation of the state will not return.”

Much stock was placed in having a national dialogue that would lead to “the unification of institutions and the holding of right presidential and parliamentary constitutional elections to allow people to have their say.”

General Haftar, veteran of the Libyan war in Chad during the 1970s and 1980s and touted past collaborator with the CIA, has preferred to spoil the party with his own effort to besiege the capital, despite efforts on the part of Western diplomats to discourage him.  His argument in attacking Tripoli since the chaos of 2011 has been directed at the feeble efforts of Libya’s interim figures, whom he accuses of being oblivious to the Islamist militia problem.  His response to the militia problem has been to create his own ragtag grouping of militias.  It takes one to get rid of one.

Al-Sarraj is doing everything he can to assure that his forces will play by the rules of international humanitarian law, hoping that this will keep him in the good books and add him to others.  A counter-offensive has begun, and clashes have been reported in Wadi Rabea, Airport Road, Ain Zara and Khalit Al-Furjan.

As the recognised government struggles, old formulae of accusations and suspicions are also playing out.  Al-Sarraj and his colleagues are convinced the general is getting support from external sources, though their finger pointing is somewhat awry. Of little doubt is the assistance Haftar is receiving from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which have done their bit to add some polish in terms of equipment to the LNA.

Russia is keen that Haftar not receive all the blame for the new round of spoliation; the United States seemed confused on the matter in the UN Security Council, though President Donald Trump has done much to confuse the issue.  (Previously, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had called on Haftar to halt his attack.)  In conversations with Haftar, Trump seemed to give his nod of approval to the efforts on the part of the LNA leader to restore order.  In a phone call, Trump “recognised Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.”

With the regime in Tripoli isolated, the Libyan Interior Minister, Fathi Bashagha, has led the recriminations.  France, despite having supplied six patrol boats to Al-Sarraj’s forces as early as February, not to mention training for the presidential guard, has been singled out as arch villain. The interior ministry has suspended “all relations between the ministry and the French side… due to the position of the French government in support of the criminal Haftar.”

European politicians are observing the latest round of violence with concern less for the humanitarian consequences to Libya than the clouded security picture that will follow.  “If the war persists,” warns former Italian Interior Minister Marco Minitti, “all those fleeing the clashes will turn into refugees per the international conventions, thus bringing among them foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq who usually use chaos to transport from one place to another.”  How inconsiderate of them.

The French response has been one of shrugged shoulders, and some regret.  But the final picture here is one of typical, undermining indifference. It was France who, helped by the United Kingdom and the United States, led the campaign to oust Muammar Qaddafi with catastrophic consequences for a state that has ceased to be.

Since 2011, to call Libya a functioning political entity has been a charade of grotesque proportion assisted by forced theatre on the diplomatic stage.  The post-2014 civil war in the aftermath of the ejection of the internationally acknowledged Libyan parliament by forces working with the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, has seen continuing, crippling conflict.  What is distinctly not a charade are the deaths and refugees that are growing in number, meaning that this failed state is on track to become the next blood soaked Syria.

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

July 13, 2020
Gerald Sussman
The Russiagate Spectacle: Season 2?
Ishmael Reed
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Perry Mason Moment
Jack Rasmus
Why the 3rd Quarter US Economic ‘Rebound’ Will Falter
W. T. Whitney
Oil Comes First in Peru, Not Coronavirus Danger, Not Indigenous Rights
Ralph Nader
The Enduring Case for Demanding Trump’s Resignation
Raghav Kaushik – Arun Gupta
On Coronavirus and the Anti-Police-Brutality Uprising
Deborah James
Digital Trade Rules: a Disastrous New Constitution for the Global Economy Written by and for Big Tech
Howard Lisnoff
Remembering the Nuclear Freeze Movement and Its Futility
Sam Pizzigati
Will the Biden-Sanders Economic Task Force Rattle the Rich?
Allen Baker
Trump’s Stance on Foreign College Students Digs US Economic Hole Even Deeper
Binoy Kampmark
The Coronavirus Seal: Victoria’s Borders Close
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Power, Knowledge and Virtue
Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
Thom Hartmann
How Billionaires Get Away With Their Big Con
REZA FIYOUZAT
Your 19th COVID Breakdown
Danny Sjursen
Undercover Patriots: Trump, Tulsa, and the Rise of Military Dissent
Charles McKelvey
The Limitations of the New Antiracist Movement
Binoy Kampmark
Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive
Joseph G. Ramsey
An Empire in Points
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset
Ramzy Baroud
On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed
Judith Deutsch
Handling Emergency: A Tale of Two Males
Michael Welton
Getting Back to Socialist Principles: Honneth’s Recipe
Dean Baker
Combating the Political Power of the Rich: Wealth Taxes and Seattle Election Vouchers
Jonah Raskin
Edward Sanders: Poetic Pacifist Up Next
Manuel García, Jr.
Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Vegetation After Emissions Shutoff “Now”
Heidi Peltier
The Camo Economy: How Military Contracting Hides Human Costs and Increases Inequality
Ron Jacobs
Strike!, Fifty Years and Counting
Ellen Taylor
The Dark Side of Science: Shooting Barred Owls as Scapegoats for the Ravages of Big Timber
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail