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Haftar has bet his career on taking Tripoli, but victory won’t mean a democratic Libya

15 6 0

When commander Khalifa Haftar ordered forces loyal to him, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA), to march on the capital Tripoli on 4 April, he did not set a time frame for this operation. Most likely he did not have any precise idea of how long such an operation would last and what it would cost. His critics sarcastically point out that on the contrary, he actually thought that he would, triumphantly, enter the capital in a couple of weeks. They accuse him of misleading his local constituency and his foreign backers including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, by telling them that taking Tripoli would be no big deal.

The battle for Tripoli has now entered its third month and it has all but stalled. LNA troops have not been able to gain any more territory beyond what they took in the first week of the attack. On the other hand, armed militias defending the city under the banner of the Government of National Accord (GNA), have failed to break the siege the LNA has maintained around the southern outskirts of Tripoli.

The battle has clearly gone on too long for both sides and their respective foreign backers, with a mounting humanitarian cost. According to the World Health Organisation over 600 have died, including 137 civilians; over 3,200 have been injured and nearly 100,000 have been displaced. The hardest hit areas are Ain Zara, southeast of Tripoli, airport road and Al-Khala and Saladdin districts in the southwest. Further south the town of Ben Ghasher is the most affected.

READ: UN: Poor nations hosting most refugees worldwide, need more Western help

At some point, just like any war, the fight will come to an end whenever that may be. This time though it looks as........

© Middle East Monitor