Libya’s internationally-backed government is deploying forces in and around the capital, Tripoli, after renegade General Khalifa Haftar on Thursday ordered his eastern military forces to advance on the city, sparking fears of a major showdown with rival militias.
…Analysts say Haftar’s previous strategy has been to expand his control through forging alliances and buying off opposition, and that his military move is motivated by the upcoming talks.
“Haftar would like to force the hand of the UN and those attending in a way that does not exclude him, fearing that this conference may start a whole new path for Libya in the next few years and that he may not be included in that process,” said Hafed Al Ghwell, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University.
…Reporting from the capital, Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed said on Thursday that “things are moving from bad to worse”.
“It seems that the rival factions on the ground are not listening to the UN chief’s warnings,” he added, calling the situation in Tripoli “tense”.
“People are afraid that if Haftar’s forces enter Tripoli, if they engage in military confrontations with local armed groups, there could be another war,” said Abdelwahed.
…Abdelwahed said it was possible that Haftar wants to reach Tripoli before the conference “so he could impose himself as a de facto security commander in the western area.”