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Libyan Civil War Reaching Climax in Tripoli Suburb

Khalifa Haftar, a former general of Muammar Gaddafi, has ignited a crisis in Libya after his surprise military invasion of the city of Tripoli on April 4, 2019.
Khalifa Haftar, a former general of Muammar Gaddafi, has ignited a crisis in Libya after his surprise military invasion of the city of Tripoli on April 4, 2019. (Photo: YouTube Screenshot)

Libya is on the verge of becoming the next proxy war, as its coalition government struggles to retain control over the country.

Last Wednesday, the U.N.-recognized Coalition Government of Libya, declared that its forces wrestled full control of the city of Gharyan, southwest of Tripoli, following fierce gun battles that left tens of people killed and wounded.

Now the National Libyan Army (NLA), commanded by former Libyan army general Khalifa Haftar, is reportedly deployed in areas around Tripoli with the intention to win control over Gharyan.

The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV channel reported that a statement by the NLA read that all forces under the army’s command are ready to move towards Gharyan area in an attempt to take over the area.

Gharyan, located 100 kilometers to the southwest of Tripoli, has been a theater for military operations carried out by the NLA since the army advanced on Tripoli in April. The town has a strategic runway for helicopters which the army used in military operations across Tripoli.

Since April, the Haftar-led NLA forces have carried out a large-scale military offensive to crack down on armed groups Haftar dubbed “terrorist organizations.” Haftar’s army has been at war with the forces of Libya’s U.N.-backed coalition government led by Fayez Alsaraj.

Alsaraj accuses Haftar of having withdrawn from a political settlement among the conflicting parties of Libya, reached in 2015.

Support by Nearby Egypt

Just recently, the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, voiced support for Haftar and the NLA. He stressed the need for a comprehensive political settlement in Libya that would undermine all terrorist organizations and lead to stability across the African-Arab country.

El-Sisi’s remarks came on the sideline of a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during the G20 summit in Osaka.

Last month, the NLA handed over to the Egyptian General Intelligence Service one of its most wanted terrorists, Hesham Ashmawy.

The extradition came during a visit to the Libyan city of Benghazi by GIS chief Abbas Kamel, where he met with Libyan National Army Commander Marshal Khalifa Hafer.

The U.N.-recognized government in Tripoli is the official legal authority of Libya, but it lacks real control over the country, as Haftar’s National Libyan  Army has rapidly consolidated power over the country’s oil fields and eastern region.

Libya’s civil war started in 2001 when Libyan crowds took to the streets in protest of the rule of Libya’s former president, Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi remained in power for four decades before he was assassinated in October 2011.

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Rami Almeghari

Rami Almeghari is a freelance independent writer, journalist and lecturer, based in the Gaza Strip. Rami has contributed in English to several media outlets worldwide, including print, radio and TV. He can be reached on facebook as Rami Munir Almeghari and on email as [email protected]

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