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  • Let's talk about what's happening with the war in Libya.

  • They've been fighting over the capital Tripoli since last April.

  • And now, world leaders in Berlin have promised to observe

  • an existing arms embargo that was being ignored.

  • But the permanent ceasefire deal they had hoped for went nowhere.

  • After Berlin, people will be watching what this renegade general does next.

  • But who is Khalifa Haftar?

  • And what's the battle for Tripoli all about?

  • The fighting in Libya has been on and off

  • ever since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

  • Part of the problem was the killing of Muammar Gaddafi that year.

  • Libya is a country full of different tribes

  • and Gaddafi's strategy towards governing Libya for 40 years

  • was to play those tribes off against one another.

  • Once Gaddafi was out of the picture the place became lawless.

  • Tribes and militias that had fought together to overthrow Gaddafi

  • turned against each other to fill the power vacuum created by his death.

  • Fighting hasn't really stopped since and if it did it didn't for long.

  • And right now there's a battle for Libya's capital.

  • The man who wants to take over is Khalifa Haftar.

  • In the late 1960s Haftar was Gaddafi's friend and helped put him in power.

  • He became one of Libya's top military leaders.

  • But in the late '80s one of Haftar's missions in Chad went wrong

  • and long story short he fell out with Gaddafi

  • and ended up living in the US for 20 years.

  • He even became an American citizen.

  • Haftar only came back to Libya once the Arab Spring hit.

  • He eventually set himself up in the east and started consolidating power.

  • With help from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates

  • he built what he called the Libyan National Army.

  • It's estimated the LNA has at least 25,000 fighters.

  • Khalifa Haftar's career as we know him today really began in July 2013.

  • And his premise was quite simple:

  • what Sisi was for Egypt he was going to try and be in Libya.

  • He realised that there was a need for a classical, conventional

  • Arab-Sunni military figure with of course

  • it goes without saying, an autocratic slant to it all.

  • One thing that's important in understanding Libya

  • is that it has two rival administrations.

  • Haftar and his forces back one of them:

  • the House of Representatives based in the east in the city of Tobruk.

  • The other is known as the Government of National Accord.

  • The GNA works out of Tripoli and is recognised by the UN.

  • It relies on what's left of Libya's formal military

  • as well as militias to keep control.

  • But some of Haftar's allies like Egypt and the UAE

  • have a problem with the GNA, mainly its links to political Islam links

  • including the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • Because those ideological currents are seen as a threat

  • to the regimes that decided to support Haftar in 2014.

  • The problem that Haftar has with any government, whether it's above him

  • or opposed to him or one that has been appointed by him

  • is that he doesn't want to share power.

  • Here's something else about Haftar: he's unpredictable.

  • A year ago it looked like peace talks

  • were going somewhere and the UN and other world

  • powers thought Haftar was on board.

  • But in April 2019, just days before a UN peace conference on Libya

  • Haftar surprised everyone with an assault on Tripoli.

  • Haftar's forces have been trying to seize the capital Tripoli

  • from the UN-backed government.”

  • Since then Haftar has been fighting militias loyal to the GNA.

  • And now he's got new help from mercenaries

  • some of them from Russia.

  • The battle has displaced thousands of people

  • and more than 200 civilians have been killed.

  • He promised at the time that he was going to be able to, in three days

  • enter Tripoli to eradicate corruption, dismantle all the militias

  • and topple the GNA. So it was a crazy adventure

  • in the sense that it was remarkably ambitious.

  • Right now world powers are trying to get the rival sides to agree

  • to a ceasefire but there are more countries involved in Libya than ever.

  • On the GNA's side you've got the UN, Italy, Qatar and Turkey

  • whose parliament recently approved sending ground forces to Tripoli.

  • But Haftar has important friends, too.

  • Like Egypt, France, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

  • A lot of states have supported him, mainly the United Arab Emirates

  • who have run a full-blown fleet of combat drones out of Libya

  • with daily air strikes, which have turned out

  • to be very destructive but not very effective.

  • And what are some of the things that world powers want?

  • Well countries like Turkey want the GNA to survive because among other

  • things it wants drilling rights for oil and gas in the Mediterranean.

  • Libya also has a lot of oil and countries like Italy

  • have oil companies in there that they want to protect.

  • Others say they're serious about stabilising a country

  • that's not had peace in far too long.

  • And if you're wondering how bad it could get

  • Germany says Libya could become a “second Syria”.

Let's talk about what's happening with the war in Libya.

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What’s Happening with the War in Libya? | Start Here

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