Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar (74) declared his troops had taken full control of Libya’s strategic city of Benghazi from jihad armed groups after a three-year intense military campaign.
“Your army reports you about the liberation of Benghazi from terrorism, about the complete liberation and victory of dignity” – said Haftar in his TV address to the nation.
The battle for Benghazi between Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and jihad fighters taking over Libya after the assassination of the Colonel Gaddafi, has been at heart of the ongoing conflict in the torn apart African state.
The liberation of Benghazi is a definite step forward towards security and stability in Libya, so much desired by the population, suffering from chaos followed after the regime change attempt by the West. The violent end of Gaddafi provoked a rapid dismantling of existing state structures, however none of the emerging political figures claiming leadership could unite the 250 tribes, leaving Libyan state fractured in three major territories: Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan, invaded by the terrorists from African and Middle East, including Boko Haram and Islmaic State.
A decisive victory of Haftar’s army in Cyrenaica, is also a reinforcement of the the Tobruk parliament, opposing a Western-backed prime-minister of the Government of National Accord – Fayez Al-Sarraj, attempting to stay at power in Tripoli, where up to date the security concerns does not allow the embassies, and international community, supporting him, to return to work.
However, who is controlling Benghazi, controls Libya, – according to an Arab saying: the oil fields, ports, and military bases – Marshall Haftar paves his way to power by military triumphs, but politically stays an enigma, engaging with Russians and Americans in different periods of his life.
A student of a military academy in the USSR, later Haftar lived 20 years in the USA, and reportedly co-operated with the CIA, after they helped him to escape the captivity in Tchad. Nowadays the Marshall is more associated with Kremlin, visiting Moscow twice last year. In January 2017 Haftar had talks on ‘fighting terrorsim’ on the board of the Russian aircraft carrier ‘Admiral Kuznetzov’, while the vessel passed by Libyan coasts. While the Pentagon is concerned by the contacts of Haftar with Kremlin, Russian experts often underline that Marshall had extensively worked with the CIA. Fluent both in Russian, and English Haftar does not need an interpreter, while expressing his views to superpowers.