Libya Destabilization Continues as Rogue General Takes On Islamist Forces
On Sunday, anti-Islamist Libyan General Khalifa Haftar stormed Libya's Parliament while it was in session.
Haftar, who helped bring down the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi, brought his forces with him, who were armed to the teeth. The General reportedly had warplanes and helicopters along with a myriad of heavy weaponry at his disposal. Haftar’s raid was perceived by some as an attempt at coup d'état, or trying to overthrow the government.
The “Libyan National Army,” under the command of Haftar, has pledged to drive out the Islamist influences from Libya.
A Libya-based media correspondent said of General Haftar, “After three years of targeted assassinations of security forces, his operations against Islamist militia won him more support from army leaders who feel the central authorities have done very little to protect them and protect the country.”
After Parliament fled the area, a whole series of battles occurred throughout the region. At least 4 were killed and 90 injured during the fighting on Sunday.
On Monday, Haftar found a new ally in the Commander of Libya’s special forces in Benghazi. Colonel Wanis Bukhmada said of the new alliance, "We are joining the battle of dignity launched by the Libyan National Army with all our men and weapons." He continued, “The battle will continue until terrorism is eradicated.” Haftar will have air support as well, as an airbase in east Libya has declared allegiance to the Libyan National Army’s cause. “The Tobruk air force base will join... the army under the command of General Khalifa Qassim Haftar,” said the statement. The forces at the air base sought to rid Libya of Islamist “extremists.”
There has been much speculation over the years that General Haftar has held a relationship with the US intelligence community. The general had previously lived in Virginia for 20 years.
Islamist groups have united against General Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army.
The Islamist-backed interim Speaker of the Parliament responded Monday by ordering the “Central Libya Shield Forces” to protect the capital. The force is widely considered an Islamist terrorist group.
On Monday, Al-Qaeda aligned group Influential Lions of Monotheism declared war on Haftar and his followers.
As of late Monday night, the United States embassy in Tripoli has declared it is considering evacuating all of its staff from the area. A US spokesman told CNN that the decision to pull the plug is being constantly evaluated “minute by minute, hour by hour.” The United States deployed four V-22 Osprey aircraft into Italy. The aircraft's close proximity to Libya gives the US military the ability to evacuate more than 200 people in short notice. Two hundred US Marines were sent to Libya in addition to the recent influx of Osprey aircraft.