A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, May 19, 2014

Confusion Spreads in Libya after Parliament Attack

Yesterday's attack on the Parliament building in Tripoli by militias from the northwestern city of Zintan appears to have spread a version of the clashes which broke out Friday in Benghazi, since the Zintan forces apparently have aligned themselves with Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who led the attacks in the east. The government in turn has called out Islamist militias to defend against the anti-Islamist rebels, threatening a broader secular vs. Islamist civil conflict. Libya has lacked a stong central government since the fall of Qadhafi, and Haftar claims he wants to remedy that, but the recognized government insists he is staging a coup. Meanwhile the Tobruk Air Force base has openly backed Haftar, while the government has declared a no-fly zone around Benghazi (*apparently aimed at its own air force).

In addition to the longstanding rumors about alleged links between Haftar and the CIA, which I noted in my post on Friday, you can add rumors that he is being supported by Egypt. (Also see here.)

It's probably too soon to make sense out of the chaotic events, let alone the rumors and accusations. But it seems fairly clear that  the sort of low-level disorder (with militias calling the shots, regular kidnappings and violence) that have characterized Libya since 2011 have escalated into more open civil conflict, and that, given the role of jihadi groups in Libya, the Egyptian government could find itself drawn in if it has not been involved already. There are also reports that Algeria, which has closed its land borders with Libya, may be considering intervention.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Cousin Leader?