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Libya’s Spillover Effect

Libya remains broken and violent. Secular forces made gains against Muslim extremists in Benghazi recently, but the advantage has shifted from side to side since early this year. And two rival governments vying for power amidst a near lawless country with open borders is an ideal setting for the outflow of everything from heightened concerns to munitions and fighters. Yet Libya keeps boiling away on the global back burner.

After failed attempts earlier this year, ex-army General Khalifa Haftar (or Hiftar) recently launched another drive to wrest Benghazi from extremist militias led by the al-Qaeda-associated Ansar al-Sharia in Libya (ASL). Haftar was bolstered on Oct. 20 when the legitimate parliament elected in June, the House of Representatives (HOR), sanctioned Haftar’s “Operation Dignity” as an “operation of the Libyan Army.”

The HOR was forced to take refuge in the small city of Tobruk near the Egyptian border in August. Militant Islamic militias comprising “Libya Dawn” seized Tripoli and re-reinstalled much of the former interim parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), as a rival government. With much of Benghazi under extremist control and experiencing violence, the desperate HOR probably backed Haftar because he best represents its majority secular composition. Furthermore, Haftar is also based in eastern Libya and had already attracted the loyalty of military units such as the Special Forces and the Air Force.

Article by Wayne White, LobeLog Foreign Policy.

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