Support from the Emirates, Russia and the US is empowering the military strongman and worsening Libyans’ suffering
In Abu Grein, on Libya’s frontline, the militiamen’s scars read like a rollcall of the wars that have roiled the country since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. One of the fighters, a truck driver named Muhammad, removes his cap to reveal a balding pate etched with shrapnel gashes. “From Da’ish,” he says, referring to a 2016 battle he fought against Islamic State in the Libyan city of Sirte.
Now, he says, yet another foe has captured Sirte: rebel militias under the command of a 76-year-old aspiring strongman named Khalifa Haftar. Last Sunday, these militias attacked Muhammad and his men, killing 11 of them, ignoring a shaky truce in a long-running war that started last April with a blitz on the Libyan capital by Haftar’s forces.
Far from the quick victory Haftar promised, it has been a drawn-out slog that has left more than 2,000 dead