Recent news surrounding Libya is that General Khalifa Haftar is pushing to take control of the capital city of Tripoli. As Libya has discovered over the past years, getting rid of a tyrannical leader is by no means the end of the problem. The question is what happens after and what comes next.
The level of interest attributed to Libya is due to it being one of the largest oil reserves and a key player in the natural gas market. That alone makes several parties enticed by the prospect of power considering the natural resources the country has.
The Gaddafi regime ended almost ten years ago and after a wave of optimism following his demise, consisting of general elections, the political state of the country went from bad to worse. This development highlights that Libya is not prepared to transcend into an actual democracy. This spiral of decline has also impacted Europe as people from Libya are seeking new countries to live in which are safer and politically more stable.
As it stands, the western side of the country is under the control of a government backed by the United Nations and based out of Tripoli. This government has found immense difficulty in asserting control over Tripoli, due to the militias which roam it. The eastern side of Libya is under the rule of Haftar who was strategic in his approach, aligning several militia to his cause. In the past, Haftar used to be close to Gaddafi before the two fell out in the 1980s. Haftar had left Libya for Virginia, living there for around twenty years. He worked for the CIA for some time and returned to Libya to give his hand in Gaddafi’s defeat. He is now leading the Libyan National Army.
As if this chaos was not enough, ISIS also developed a stronghold in Libya. Haftar’s victory over ISIS, with some help from the French was declared in 2017. Following this victory many are now resolute that Haftar will be a key political figure in Libya for the years to come. One of the upsides is that Haftar is on the opposite side of Islamic extremism.
Many had believed that Haftar would attempt to seize all of Libya via an election, however, it seems that he has opted to do so via violence.
Haftar is moving in towards Tripoli and with such an army at his disposal, it is expected that he will take control. With that said, maintaining control won’t be easy due to the militias fighting amongst themselves. The concern of many is that Haftar will end up being simply a second version of Gaddafi. For one thing, Haftar faces a serious challenge in putting Libya back on the track of political health.