LIBYAPROSPECT – Editorial
The commander of the army affiliated to the House of Representatives (HoR), General Khalifa Haftar, addressed Libyans, on Friday, after the demonstrations in Tripoli. Haftar’s speech was for those who shouted his name at the rally; he expressed willingness to respond, he said that “I heard your voices, our forces are too close to the capital.”
Haftar finds it hard to promote the war as “war against terrorism” as he only waged war in two cities, Derna and Benghazi, the rest of the eastern cities announced affiliation without fights, for the tribal domination. Derna and Benghazi proved stubborn, both cities include all Libyan currents and tribes, fighting continues until now after three years.
Tripoli, despite the security crisis, its social and culture infrastructure is well fortified that impede the spread of hatred and extremist ideologies, and the failure of Madkhali Salafi current to prevail is a prominent prove.
From another side, Tripoli surroundings “capital geographical ring” has different tribal structure comparing to the east, there is no assembly to unite all that tribal mixture to form a human storage to fuel Haftar’s war. Al-Zawya, Janzour from the western side of Tripoli, Tarhouna, and Garaboulli, in the east of Tripoli, have anti Haftar tribal factions, besides Wersheffana in the west and south-west of Tripoli, that earlier formed “the tribes army” affiliated to the former regime of Gaddafi, it once witnessed intensified struggle between its tribal leaders and Haftar.
Also, Haftar has to face the strongest city, politically and militarily, Misrata, that managed to support and feed his opponents in the south, and Benghazi, it is said that the military support moves from Misrata port to Benghazi to support Benghazi Shura Council who fight against Haftar.
Misrata opposition to Haftar is different, it is not limited to the military side, but it has a significant political presence even inside the HoR, the political front for Haftar
Misrata’s strong presence forced Haftar to accept a settlement, through the HoR and the head of the Salvation Government, Khalifa Al-Ghuwel, also coming from Misrata, following his return to Tripoli last October.
From inside, dozens of armed militias spread inside Tripoli, with fast changing loyalties. Despite differences between such militias, they have one thing in common, their fierce opposition to Haftar military ruling. Tripoli militias represent all Libya, as most prominent regions have military representation in the capital. According to observers, the war inside Tripoli is expected to spread to other parts of Libya. Militias distribution points in Tripoli is another obstacle for any military forces intent to intervene, most of them have positions within the residential areas, especially inside villas and private and public buildings. Thus, forcing the capital, which hosts the third of the population, into a war leads to catastrophic consequences.
The neighbor and regional countries are aware of that, Malta, Italy, and Algeria joined the opposition camp. Algeria rushed to join peace efforts after Haftar, backed by Egypt, approached Al-Jufra base, such opposition shall limit Haftar’s ambition to control the capital.
In front of such obstacles, Haftar restored to other means to control Tripoli, he tried to create chaos, ignite internal frustration, besides other steps on the political front, he managed the state structure and decisions, starting from the HoR refusal to endorse the Government of National Accord (GNA), to the HoR latest decision to withdraw the support to the political accord and recognition of the Presidential Council (PC) of the GNA. Other decisions proceeded, like the sack of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) Governor, moving the CBL headquarter to Al-Baida city, the HoR also partially control the National Oil Corporation (NOC), especially after Haftar exerted control over the Oil Crescent Region.
But what could end Haftar and his army is Benghazi scandal, as members of his affiliated forces dug up graves, abused and paraded corpses across streets.
After all, will Haftar remain a figure in the political equation and power balance inside Libya? Will his regional backers continue to grant him a leading role? Or counter propaganda by his supporters will manage to make people forget, and Haftar will still maintain supporters and regional backers?
The biggest question is about how the regional countries and the International Community would deal with Haftar’s scandals and failures?