BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:15 P.M.) – Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar who leads the Libyan National Army in support of the country’s Tobruk-based government has made it clear that he no longer sees any validity in the United Nations-brokered unity deal made with the rival Tripoli-based government two years ago; he also believes the opposing administration to itself be illegitimate. At the same time pro-army media is hinting at a possible confrontation between the two governments.
Under the Twitter slogan #WeAreReady, pro-Libyan army media has declared an apparent willingness by Haftar-led forces to launch a wide-scale military operation to destroy the so-called ‘Tripoli government’ and armed groups loyal to it.
It is worth mentioning that the government in Tripoli and the forces associated with it are directly backed by major Western powers like the United States, Britain and France.
In addition to unconfirmed reports that Haftar’s Libyan National Army is mobilizing near the frontier with Tripoli-controlled territory also comes claims that Libyan warplanes have carried-out mock combat runs over the coastal city of Sirte which is currently held by pro-Tripoli forces.
Following the renewal of nationwide hostilities in 2014, the Tobruk and Tripoli governments established a very shaky unity pact with one another in the form of the UN-brokered Skhirat Agreement.
The agreement was reached at the end of 2015 and was to remain effective for two years at the end of which time all rival administrations in Libya were to have sorted their differences and dissolved into a single unified polity; that deadline has now expired and nothing in the way of greater cooperation has been achieved.
In any case, Haftar no longer believes the agreement to be valid just on the grounds of its unfair preconditions and demands.
The rationale of Haftar’s disillusionment with the Skhirat deal is that the Islamist Tripoli government represents a non-elected, self-imposing polity in Libya and is therefore no different to groups like ISIS.
At the present time, the Tobruk government (which has the backing of Russia, Egypt and pro-Haftar forces) controls about seventy percent of Libya, including virtually all of the country’s oil production sites.