Libya’s new strongman

EVER SINCE the fall of Muammar Al Gaddafi back in 2011, Libya has remained in a state of unending civil war, as warring factions within the country fight for control of country’s land and oil reserves. This is the natural state of politics and human society in general. When a country’s center power falls, civil war usually follows.

However, Libya’s civil war may soon be entering a new chapter as Khalifa Haftar’s forces prepare to enter Libya’s capital, Tripoli. Haftar is not a new figure in Libyan politics. He was once a major ally of Gaddafi but certain disagreements drove him to flee to the US. Later, he became an ally of the CIA, and in 2011, he helped to bring down Gaddafi.

Now, he wants to control the country. According to many reports, Haftar’s forces currently control the South and East of Libya, and with momentum on his side, he is attempting a massive push to reach the capital. If Haftar can capture the capital then he can control the country. Now, will he be able to consolidate power to himself (and his backers) once he does?

No one knows. The situation is uncertain, and the conflict is escalating. The situation will almost certainly get worse no matter what happens.

Haftar’s forces are currently fighting militia aligned with the UN-recognized government. So even if he does manage to enter the capital, Haftar will have to expend a lot of political and financial capital to convince his people and the world that he should be given power.

And this is where things get very interesting.

Let’s say that Haftar does take Tripoli. What would the US do? Will Trump intervene? That would alienate many of his already angry supporters, many of whom are tired of foreign intervention. Will Russia and China get involved? And if they do, will Haftar accept their aid? If he does that will almost certainly piss of his CIA friends.

Is it also possible that Haftar is operating under the support and assistance of the CIA? And what about the rest of the Islamic World? How will a Haftar victory alter the geopolitical calculus in Syria, Turkey, Egypt and Israel?

There are a hundred other questions and possibilities to consider, but at this point, they’re all just speculation. As of the writing of this essay, Haftar’s forces are still on the move, but the situation seems to be escalating in Libya, and a Haftar victory is very plausible.

If he can consolidate power around himself, and crush all opposition, then he may be able to restore Libya back to the way things were when Gaddafi still ruled the country. This isn’t very likely, but it is possible. If this does happen then not only will Haftar change Libya, his actions will also affect Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and the oil market./PN


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