While the UN and other international actors call for a peaceful solution and dialogue, General Haftar’s LNA see violence as the only solution.
Rabat – On Saturday, July 13, General Khalifa Haftar’s forces announced that they will enter Al Karama Martyrs Square in the centre of Tripoli in a bid to take control of the Libyan capital.
Fighting in Tripoli has been ongoing since the Haftar-led, self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive on Western Libya on April 4th. The defending Government of National Accord (GNA) mobilized its security forces to combat the attack. Over 1000 people, including civilians, have been killed in the clashes.
Haftar’s announcement on Saturday marks the latest attempt by the LNA to seize control of the capital city, home to more than 1 million people.
“The full liberation of the Libyan capital Tripoli is approaching.” LNA Brigadier General Saleh Buhliqa told Russian news outlet Sputnik.
Haftar said his push for control was a fight to defeat terrorists, whom he claimed had infiltrated the GNA.
Clashes have been ongoing since the first Libyan Civil war erupted eight years ago.
In 2011, Muammar Gadaffi, who had ruled Libya for over four decades, was overthrown during the Libyan revolution. In the absence of the leader, multiple parties fought to fill the power vacuum.
Established after the first Libyan Civil War and headed by General Haftar, the LNA has received support from the United Arab Emirates, as well as neighboring Egypt who has fought its own battles against Islamic extremism.
Haftar served in the Libyan army under Gadaffi. After defecting from the military in the 1980s, Haftar lived in Virginia, eventually earning US citizenship. He returned to Libya in 2011 during the revolution.
When a coup ousted Gadaffi that same year, Haftar held a senior position in the armed forces that overthrew the Libyan leader.
The GNA was formed in 2016. The interim government was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, who recognizes the GNA as the only legitimate executive authority in Libya.
Despite the diplomatic and military support the opposition forces have received, backers of both the LAN and GNA have pressed both sides to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Last Saturday’s announcement made clear that, at least for now, Haftar favors a military solution.
As the GNA and Haftar’s LNA continue their deadly battle for control, hundreds of civilian lives have been lost and tens of thousands more displaced.
The same decade that witnessed Libya dissolve into civil war twice has also seen a massive migration crisis as millions of refugees from the Middle East and Africa fled violence, famine, and drought. Seeking better lives in Europe, many of these refugees followed a path of migration that took them through Libya in hopes of crossing the Mediterranean.
Thousands of those caught attempting to migrate illegally are held in migrant detention centers in Libya. These centers have become increasingly dangerous as fighting has escalated in Libya.
On July 3, a pair of airstrikes hit a migrant detention center on the outskirts of Tripoli, killing 53 and injuring an additional 130 people.
Haftar’s latest offensive could bring another wave of violence to the capitol, again leaving hundreds of civilians vulnerable.
UNHCR special emissary Vincent Cochetel warned that those held at migrant detention centers remain in particular danger.
“These warehouses within military facilities are unsuitable to keep arbitrary human beings,” Cochetel said on Twitter. “Other tragedies can happen.”