Libya is on the verge of descending into chaos…..again. Fighting between government forces and Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has intensified as LNA troops approach the capital city of Tripoli. As the fighting edges closer to the city, the United Nations has requested a temporary ceasefire in order for wounded civilians to be evacuated. The UN attempt failed. The international community has called for both sides to end hostilities. Those calls were soundly ignored by the government and LNA forces. If anything, the fighting appears to be intensifying, with both sides having launched airstrikes at positions in the Tripoli suburbs. Artillery fire has also been reported to have hit civilian homes and businesses across the capital city.
As the fighting escalates, the United States has announced it is withdrawing some of its forces from Libya due to the deteriorating security situation on the ground there. News of the evacuation was the first public confirmation that US forces are in Libya. India is also withdrawing its peacekeeper troops from the country.
Haftar’s stated goal is to overthrow the Government of National Accord (GNA) which is backed by the UN and many Western nations. Haftar’s forces are receiving material support from the UAE, and there are reports of up to 300 Russian mercenaries in Eastern Libya supporting Haftar.
GNA forces have launched a major offensive dubbed Operation Volcano of Anger to prevent Haftar’s LNA from entering the capital city.Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj appears to have chosen to defend Tripoli as he waits to see if international pressure can either force Haftar to retreat, or bring about a truce. Western pressure placed on Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE is the clearest path to achieving either of these goals, however, it is not clear if the West can project a united front in order to bring it about.
As the drama plays out, Libya remains on the edge of a major disaster this evening.