AFTER over a month of fighting to take Libya’s capital, Tripoli, General Khalifa Haftar – who broke with Colonel Gadaffi to flee to the US in 2011 to join the CIA – is determined to ‘uproot’ the government.
The internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, is based in Tripoli.
Haftar, who commands the Libyan National Army (LNA), in a message late on Sunday night, urged his troops to teach the unity government forces a ‘greater and bigger lesson’.
As the holy fasting month of Ramadan began, he instructed: ‘In the event of a retreat by the enemy, troops should pursue it with speed and force, prevent it from fleeing and wipe it out’ with support from LNA air forces.
Haftar added that Ramadan had not been a reason to halt previous battles against what he claimed was ‘terrorism’ when he seized the eastern cities of Benghazi and Derna during clashes in 2017 and 2018.
Haftar’s message was a response to the call of the United Nations Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) for ‘an extendable one-week humanitarian truce’ starting at 4:00am local time on Monday to coincide with the beginning of Ramadan.
As UNSMIL issued the truce statement, artillery shelling could be heard coming from the southern outskirts of Tripoli, where the LNA has been trying to breach the GNA forces’ defences.
Libya was divided after Anglo-French air attacks prepared the way for the murder of Colonel Gadaffi in 2011.
After the murder, the then UK leader Cameron and France’s Sarkozi addressed huge crowds in Tripoli and Benghazi telling them that a ‘Free Libya’ was now at hand, as they handed over power to the Islamists who split up the country and then repaid Cameron with the terrorist attack on Manchester, on the Ariana Grande concert in June 2017, killing 22 and injuring 116 people.
Haftar, 75, who enjoys the loyalty of a group of armed militias, and backing from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and France, supports the ‘alternative government’ in Tobruk. Armed forces and militia loyal to the GNA in Tripoli have been fighting back.
With the US currently seeking to impose an oil blockade on Iran, the question of which state owns and controls the sale of Libya’s vital oil supply and huge oil reserves has become one of worldwide importance.
US President Donald Trump plunged into the struggle last month with a phone call to Haftar, the would-be ‘strongman’. He ‘recognised Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources,’ said the White House.
Meanwhile, Haftar has been supplied with an air force, naval units to blockade oil ports, and arms for ground forces.
His LNA has almost two-thirds of the country and all its oilfields under its control. However, the UN has characterised Haftar’s push on Tripoli as an attempted coup, and warned that fighting has already killed at least 432 people, wounded 2,069 and displaced more than 50,000 since April 4th.
UN inspectors are reportedly probing missile attacks on Libya’s capital Tripoli, accusing the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of supplying Haftar with Blue Arrow air-to-surface missiles.
The General is now backed by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France and Washington but is opposed by Italy – the former colonial power. The struggle to grab Libya’s oil has split the European Union and the UN!
The Libyan masses now look back on the period of rule by Colonel Gadaffi as a ‘golden era’ of peace and prosperity.
With revolutions now sweeping through North Africa, and with millions on the march in Algeria, Tunisia and the Sudan, it will not be long before the masses of Libyan workers and youth take revolutionary mass actions to stop the imperialist powers stealing Libya’s oil wealth, and restore the prosperity that they enjoyed under the Gadaffi government.
This time however, the Libyan workers will take the power to establish a socialist Libya, based on workers’ councils that will be immune from regime change imperialist conspiracies.