The crisis in Libya is about to get much worse. Nine months ago a renegade general named Khalifa Hiftar launched an attack on the internationally recognized and UN-backed government in Tripoli. That assault suddenly ended UN-brokered peace process that seemed to be on the brink of success.
In the ensuing months, the sides have been locked into a stalemate, with fighting mostly confined to neighborhoods on the outskirts of Tripoli. But, recently Hiftar’s foreign backers have stepped up their support. This includes Russia, which has deployed troops and equipment to Hiftar this fall. Meanwhile, Turkey is raising the possibility that it will send troops to defend Tripoli from Hiftar’s attack.
The situation is now extremely perilous. Outside forces, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates are fueling this conflict. Meanwhile, key diplomatic players in Europe and the United States are sending mixed signals about their preferred outcome. So, at the end of 2019 it could very well transpire that Libya descends into a crushing proxy war and civil war, of enormous humanitarian consequence.
On the line to discuss the crisis in Libya is Mary Fitzgerald. She is a longtime researcher who recently returned from Libya. In this episode of the Global Dispatches podcast she explains how we got to this point–that is, how Libya descended into chaos after the fall of Gadaffi and how a civil war in Libya became the venue for an international proxy war. If you have 25 minutes and want to learn why Libya could become the major international crisis of 2020, have a listen.