The forces of the 75-year-old General Khalifa Haftar, known as the Libyan National Army, who is said to have the backing of certain Arab governments, including Saudi Arabia, began moving towards the capital city Tripoli on April 3, and two weeks later announced they have the Tripoli International Airport under their control. This is under conditions that the “National Accord” government, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, is based in Tripoli and recognized by the international community.
So what is happening now in Libya is the outcome of military operations that have taken place in the country over the past four months by General Haftar. The general had been convinced that within a week he would take over Tripoli and set up a government under his own rule. Today, however, we see that General Haftar forces have failed to fulfil their goals and are caught in a deadlock. We are also witnessing these forces remain behind the gates of Tripoli without being able to advance.
Meanwhile, the conflict has had hundreds of human casualties. More than a thousand people have been killed and several thousand more injured during the war.
In sum, General Haftar’s operations, despite the financial support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have not been able to go on track in spite of the arms supplied by the French and other Western powers. At the same time, the foundations of the Fayez al-Sarraj government, that is the National Accord government, have been strengthened more than ever, because Islamists and especially Islamic groups following the Muslim Brotherhood and led by Sarraj and under the National Accord government have tried to resist Western policies and not allow Gen. Haftar set up a secular and laic government in Libya.
Of course, the efforts of Gen. Haftar began when Libya was moving towards a consensus-based election, and the only achievement Haftar made was to halt the electoral process. Indeed, if the elections had been held, the Islamists would have won.
Of course, the West, along with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are behind General Khalifa Haftar in the Libyan unrest while Turkey, Qatar and the United Nations stand against him and support the rule of Fayez al-Sarraj.
Because the government of Sarraj has the endorsement of the United Nations and came to power in the course of negotiation and a diplomatic process under the auspices of the United Nations.
Also, what is happening today in Libya is a proxy war on behalf of circles outside Africa, such as Turkey and Qatar, on the one hand, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia on the other. Of course, behind each of these sets of countries stand Western countries; the United States, Britain, France and Italy also disagree on Libya. In fact, Italy is a supporter of Fayez al-Sarraj and France backs General Haftar. Meanwhile, the United States and Britain do not have any clear positions, but generally, support the formation of a secular government and do not want an Islamist state come to power in Libya.
Regarding the future of Libya, several scenarios must be taken into account; in fact, Gen. Haftar and his supporters hope to create an opportunity for a lightning strike to seize Tripoli. But this is a false notion because today the war has spread among the people and many civilians have been killed and wounded in the Libyan conflict. Therefore, since General Haftar’s team has committed many crimes, they now refrain from further attacks. Because if more people are killed in this course, naturally the international response would be detrimental to Haftar and his supporters.
Therefore, the likely scenario is that this conflict will continue as a war of attrition in the coming months. Perhaps the solution to the political crisis in Libya is non-interference of Western countries in its internal affairs. They must provide conditions that a law would be formulated and approved based on the will and culture of the Libyan people followed by free elections. Because after the collapse of the Gaddafi government, the Libyan people have not been given a chance to form an independent assembly and hold free elections, and foreign interventions under the pretext of the provision of security have always prevented the holding of free assemblies in Libya.