Libya – an arms market awash with petrodollars
The White Houseʹs disclosure came a day after the U.S. and Russia refused to back a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya. Let us explore for a moment the surprise agreement between the U.S. and Russia. Indeed itʹs exceptional, dictated by the intersection of interests between them. For Russia, Libya is a very important geo-political centre of influence and it was a rich source of arms purchases for four decades under the "Brotherly Leader".
Meanwhile, Trump is banking on General Haftar fighting terrorism, protecting the oil wells and ports, and ensuring the flow of oil to world markets. Trumpʹs bet is based on reports by his national security agencies, which showed that the forces fighting alongside Fayez al-Sarraj and his Presidential Council and government are teeming with Islamist militias, part extremist and part terrorist (including the remnants of al-Qaida, IS, and the group who murdered the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi in 2012) as well as criminal militias dealing in drugs, oil and people.
As for the present situation, after almost four months General Haftarʹs forces have taken control militarily of nearly 90 percent of the country, including the outskirts of the capital. The outcome of the intense fighting remains uncertain and both sides continue to reject a ceasefire.
The militias amassed inside the capital and its suburbs are utterly adamant in their refusal to stop fighting, as has been voiced by their political front the Presidential Council (which is recognised internationally, for diplomatic reasons). Reflecting the stance of the various militias, they insist that General Haftarʹs forces should return to their positions before their April 4 attack on Tripoli.
Over and beyond this, according to their loud rhetoric, General Haftar should not have any personal role in any dialogue or negotiation over the future of the country, because he is seen by them as a war criminal. Despite all this, they lack the power required to repel his forces, especially after the hardcore militias from Misrata sustained such heavy losses that their people even took to the streets, calling for information about the fate of their sons amid the rising death toll. In other words, it is highly likely that General Haftarʹs forces will soon enter the capital and take control of sensitive sites in and around the city.
But what next?! .. Will Tripoliʹs inhabitants become a popular recruiting ground for the youth forces of the cityʹs major districts? Or will the city become the target of an exhausting guerrilla campaign which will open the door to a new chapter of blood and destruction?
© Qantara.de 2019
Translated from the Arabic by Chris Somes-Charlton