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Friday, October 20, 2017

Who is in real power in Libya?

Guest post by Adel Karim
October 20, 2017 

Note from the editor: I haven't written or posted on Libya in years, and have fallen totally behind on the situation. I was contacted just now by investigative reporter Adel Karim suggesting I publish this piece (already run at Eurasia Review at least). Taking at as sort of an honor, I copy and paste this useful analysis. - Adam Larson
Who is in real power in Libya?

After the U.S. and its NATO-partners invaded Libya in 2011 and killed its leader Muammar Gaddafi, the country is being into chaos and suffering from political instability and violence by different terrorist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and AQIM.

Two opposing forces are currently competing for political power in Libya. The first one is the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli. Another is the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk supported by the Libyan National Army (LNA) Commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and elected by popular vote.

It is noteworthy that Khalifa Haftar has managed to succeed in fighting extremists and jihadists in six years. Besides, thanks to Haftar, a tribal unification process has been going on in Libya. His combat-capable army currently has 60,000 soldiers.

The LNA controls the most important coastal oil terminals located in Libya's ‘oil crescent’ that includes Ras Lanuf, Es Sider, Marsa al-Brega, and Zuwetina oil-exporting ports. These towns export about a half of all the Libyan oil.

At the end of May, 2017, Khalifa Haftar established control over the strategically important Ufra Airbase located 500 km south-west of Tripoli. At the beginning of July, 2017, Field Marshal announced total liberation of Benghazi, the second important city in Libya, from terrorists. Despite the risk of being arrested by the detachments controlling Tripoli, that victory was also celebrated by the inhabitants of the capital, not only by the residents of the east of Libya.

The LNA currently controls more than 80 per cent of the country. Actually, the real political power in Libya is concentrated in the hands of Khalifa Haftar.

In his turn, Prime Minister of Libya Fayez al-Sarraj only formally controls the western part of the country and has more symbolic than actual influence on the current situation in Libya. He has never managed to expand his power out of Tripoli in 18 months.

Fayez al-Sarraj doesn't have any armed forces. Several armed groups in and around Tripoli only support the Prime Minister but are not subject to his authority. He can give orders only to the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade (TRB) in Tripolitania headed by Haithem Al-Tajouri.

Besides, the Libyan Prime Minister has failed to solve problems including outrageous crimes of numerous armed groups, restoration of justice and health care, and electric energy supplying.

Obviously, due to unsolved internal problems Fayez al-Sarraj and his government lost popular support and confidence of ordinary Libyans.

Meanwhile, supporters of Khalifa Haftar have already begun collecting signatures in support of his authority throughout the country. The Libyan Youth Movement (LYM) wants Haftar to control Tripoli. According to the activists, they have already collected 700,000 signatures in order to receive popular support before the end of Fayez al-Sarraj's term of office in December, 2017.

Undoubtedly, it will take years to completely restore statehood in Libya and the power institutions. However, Khalifa Haftar is currently the only real force that is able to stabilize the situation in the foreseeable future in the country.


  1. Adel - don't know if you can or will answer, but I have questions.

    Heftar was kept in the U.S. for decades, heading a US-backed National Front for the Salvation of Libya. He was sent in by the US in 2011 to head up the opposition and form a new government, as I recall. Now the U.S. and UN back the other government (GNA) competing with Heftar's LNA.

    So the question I have is this:
    what has Hefatr done to show he's broken the U.S. script? Do people trust him, fully, partly? Is there much of a chance he's part of some reverse psychology set-up, where the U.S. publicly supports his competition, so the Libyans embrace him, to spite the U.S.?

    He's worked out deal with tribal elders, which sounds good. What are his relations with the Gaddafi green resistance? For that matter, what's your view on that?

  2. French military support to the LNA in its anti-jihadist drive was soon upgraded to open acknowledgement of the political role of Haftar, notwithstanding Paris remained formally committed to supporting the Tripoli-based GNA.
    During and after the 2011 uprising, he served as a link between his Zintan tribe and the French defence ministry, which relied heavily on the Zintans for its Libyan diplomatic efforts. Dira is thus able to open plenty of doors in Paris! Haftar also relied on his political adviser, Fadhel El Dib who could be seen at his side at Celle Saint-Cloud, as could Saddam Haftar, one of the general's sons who has the rank of captain in his father's army.

    April 14 ,2018 Tobruk government army says commander Khalifa Haftar fell ill while on visit to Paris. Expected to return Libya after treatment. (Reuters)

    April 18 (Reuters) - A car bomb hit a convoy of the chief of staff of the eastern Libyan military outside Benghazi on Wednesday, killing one and wounding at least two people, security and military officials said.
    Abdel-Razeq Nathouri was travelling from Benghazi to his base in al-Marj, a small eastern town, when the convoy hit him some 20 km outside Benghazi.
    No more details were immediately available.
    Nathouri is chief of staff to forces run by Khalifa Haftar, who has been receiving medical treatment in Paris, a French source said on Friday, confirming earlier reports from Libyan officials and media.
    April 18, 2018 Libyan Army’s Chief of Staff Escapes Assassination Attempt in Benghazi
    Prince Mohamed El-Senussi, the son of the late Crown Prince Hassan Al-Rida, has said that the only way out of Libya’s current crisis is a return to the pre-1969 monarchist constitution and that he is fully prepared to serve Libya’s people. The statement followed Saturday’s conference in Tripoli for the restoration of monarchy and the “independence constitution”.
    It was the third and largest so far of such gatherings. The first was in Ghariyan in October 2017 and the second in Beida in November.  According to organisers, some 300 people were expected at the conference in Tripoli’s Corinthia hotel. In the event some 600 turned up from across the country.
    Informative article on the dilemmas and obstacles Libya is currently faced with while working towards a new constitution and elections. Starts with the work of Dutch diplomat Adrian Pelt who as UNHC successfully assisted in drafting the 1951 constitution.
    Ahmed Sewehli :A very poor article. Imagine writing about the obstacles to elections in ANY country in the world without mentioning that a significant part of that country is under the military control of a rogue general who has removed all elected officials & is acting as Dictator

    1. For example, Muhammad as-Senussi, son of the former Crown Prince and grand-nephew of the late King Idris (who Gaddafi and his revolutionary allies ousted from power in 1969), was one of the most vocal advocates for foreign intervention and condemnation of Gaddafi and the government during the crisis, and was flown to various locations, including to address the European Parliament, to evangelise for the rebels’ cause. A rival claimant to the throne, Idris bin Abdullah al-Senussi, announced in an interview that he was ready to return to Libya and “assume leadership” (restore the old monarchy?) once the change had been initiated. These weren’t objective, impartial voices, but people with an obvious agenda and an obvious grudge against Gaddafi being allowed to steer part of the discourse abroad. For the record, the former Libyan monarchy had essentially been a European/Colonial-installed puppet regime that served Western/corporate interests and had kept the population in poverty. Of course, I wouldn’t suggest that every single person involved in the rebellion or the NTC was a NATO puppet, a stooge for foreign corporations or an Islamist extremist; no doubt, some of them were simply people who wanted change and many others were no doubt people simply swept along in the tide.
      And further to all of this (and much after the fact), lead NTC official Mustafa Abdul Jalil has admitted that he knew at the time that Gaddafi hadn’t given anyone any order to fire on civilians in Benghazi (the allegation that was the basis for the 2011 UN Resolution and NATO intervention), but that he had gone along with the lie for the sake of having Gaddafi toppled.
      He also admits that it wasn’t Libyan security forces that fired those first shots against protesters back in February 2011, but foreign intelligence operatives – and furthermore that he had been briefed in advance that it was going to happen. In essence he was admitting that the entire Libyan ‘crisis’ and ‘intervention’ was a staged crisis orchestrated from the outside.

  3. Boduara stressed the importance of the constitution of independence and its legitimate heir, the Crown Prince Mohammed Al-Hassan Al-Rida Sonoussi, who must be the legitimate king of Libya.
    “This call is a national rescue project after the continuous political failures, Libya’s ongoing crisis and the failure of any party to end the division and deterioration in all sectors of the country,” he said.
    April 9 2016Al-Kufra: Return to the Monarchy Movement calls for return of Monarch’s heir

    Kufra, 15 March 2018:
    The first LNA units arrived in Kufra

  4. https://libyastories.com/2014/10/16/benghazi-libya-the-libyan-national-army-has-entered-the-city-in-force-to-eject-the-islamist-militias/
    By Wednesday 15th October 2014 large units of the Libyan National Army commanded by the Chief of Staff Abdul Razzaq Nazhuri and including Major General Hafter’s troops from Operation Dignity had entered Benghazi. As they did so they were joined by 204 Tank Brigade which had, until Wednesday, remained neutral in its barracks within thn the e city. It seems that the combined force has taken over the extensive barracks of the 17th February Brigade in the centre of the city. The 17th February Brigade has been an ally of the Islamist Ansar Sharia Brigade and Raafallah Al-Fahati Brigade which have dominated Benghazi for some considerable time.


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