Can Khalifa Haftar Defeat Terrorism In Libya? – OpEd


After the 2011 tragic events, when NATO invaded Libya and brought chaos and devastation, it has refused to settle the socio-political crisis.

Having slain the national Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the U.S. under the pretext of promoting democratic values initiated Libya’s division between various tribes and groups.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) created on 27 February, 2011, and its successor General National Congress (GNC) failed to unite the country under a solid ideology. When they were active, neither an effective government nor lasting state foundation was created. In fact the country plunged into anarchy. This freed the hands of various terror and radical groups like ISIS, AQIM, the Muslim Brotherhood and others, which easily gained control over oil fields and drowned the country in blood and violence.

Only in 2014, when the Operation Dignity lead by the Libyan National Army (LNA) Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar started, the real battle against terrorism began. Haftar gathered his brothers in arms and their fellow tribesmen uniting them for one goal – to defeat terrorism.

Recently, the LNA has been successfully fighting the jihadists. In March 2017, the army liberated the strategically important Mediterranean town of Ras Lanuf and the port of Al-Sidr that are the largest hubs of the Libyan oil export. In July, the Haftar-led troops succeeded in securing the country’s second major city – Benghazi.

It is worth saying that the fight against terrorism initiated by the Libyan Field Marshal is an important milestone for a political settlement as well. It is also clear to the Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj who has failed in stabilizing the situation while being in office.

Sarraj is not popular in Libya anymore. The decline of his rating was caused by his inability to control the radical groups he collaborates with. Realizing the importance of increasing his popularity for the future of his political career, the prime minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) decided to cooperate with Haftar. On July 25, the sides agreed upon a ceasefire and general elections in 2018. However, for the LNA commander, this step is about speeding up the battle against terrorists, while the acting prime minister is only interested in retaining his political weight. A perfect example of it is the Sabratha battle. When the forces loyal to Sarraj and GNA captured the town with the assistance of Haftar’s troops, they proudly announced that Sabratha had been liberated.

The recent events show that Haftar has become a national leader capable of uniting the Libyan people in the fight against terrorism. Today, more than a half of the country’s territory is under LNA control. Obviously, it is Field Marchal Haftar who can put an end to terrorism in Libya starting its revival as a single state.

* Adel Karim is an independent investigative correspondent.

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