Libya: Battlelines Drawn As Clashes Force Groups To Choose Sides

An attempt to dislodge Islamist militia in Benghazi and parliament in Tripoli is realigning Libya’s complex political landscape.

Simmering tensions have once again erupted in Libya, as an armed standoff raises both the spectre of civil war, and an end of the political stalemate that has stalled progress since the overthrow of deposed leader Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi in 2011.

On 16 May, the “Libyan National Army” commanded by former general Khalifa Haftar attacked the bases of Islamist militia in Benghazi, prompting heavy fighting that involved the bombing of Islamists by Libyan air force jets. Mr Haftar, a one-time crony of Qadhafi, who later fought against the dictator in the 2011 revolution, responded to a prolonged campaign of assassinations of security personnel in Libya’s second city, and the perception that radical Islamism is gaining ground in the east of the country. The government swiftly denounced the surprise attack, calling the action a coup. (CONTINUED - 1133 WORDS)