Khalifa Haftar is losing ground and lashing out in Libya

KHALIFA HAFTAR’S self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) says it will cease fire for what remains of the holy month of Ramadan. But friends of General Haftar say he is doubling down on the civil war he started six years ago. His year-long siege of Tripoli, seat of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), has intensified of late. Groups loyal to him have messed with the city’s power and water supplies. The LNA’s shells have hit hospitals. “It’s hard to believe it’s not deliberate,” says a diplomat. In the east General Haftar is trying to consolidate his power. On April 27th he claimed a “popular mandate” for his LNA and placed the region under military rule.

These moves cannot hide the fact that, for the first time in a while, General Haftar is on the back foot. Militias aligned with the GNA and backed by Turkey have regained a string of cities connecting Tripoli to the Tunisian border. They have hemmed the LNA inside al-Watiya air base, its headquarters for western operations, and are besieging Tarhuna, one of its strongholds (see map). The loss of these positions could doom General Haftar’s campaign in the west and lead to Libya’s partition.


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