ISIS IN ACTION
Battles continue in the final area (Khribish) in Sabri district of Benghazi, where a number of fighters and families are now still believed to be holding out, despite General Haftar’s announcement of official victory in Benghazi on 5 July. 10 LNA fighters were killed last week according to pro-LNA media. This raises the number of reported fatalities on the LNA’s side up to almost 50 soldiers, with a larger number of injuries since the liberation proclamation. The surrounding area remains a sea of landmines, IEDs and booby traps, and 19 civilians were reported killed throughout last week by ordinance.
Although many in Benghazi are grateful for the defeat of ISIS, rampant corruption, neglect of urgent post-war needs, and the lack of financial resources fuel instability in Benghazi. Signs of local tensions and discontent are increasing and threaten, or at least challenge, Haftar’s control on stability and ability to keep ISIS and other extremists out of the city.
Various sources report that Libyan general Ali Kanna visited Algerian foreign minister Abdelkader Messahel in Algiers last week. Kanna, a former Tuareg leader in Muammar Gaddafi’s army, led command operations in the Fezzan until the very end of the uprising in 2011. Following this and a brief period in Niger, he set out for southern Libya where he began a “Ghaddafist” army and eventually joined forces with eastern Libyan strong man and a fellow Gaddafi army veteran, Khalifa Haftar. Haftar initially charged him with command of the southern zone but later, out of fear that his army might have been infiltrated by hard-line Gaddafists, he dismissed Kanna. This meeting expresses Algeria’s desire to play a leading role in the stabilization of Libya.
On July 11, Mayor of Zintan Mustapha al-Barouni and several other western Libyan municipal leaders met in Brussels with members of the European Union Policy and Security Committee as well as delegates of EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini. Mogherini, who had met Libyan mayors before, in 2015, is trying to enlist the support of the local authorities to complete the EU’s local stabilization programmes.
On 13 July Zuwara local municipality participated in the high level meetings in Tripoli with the Italian Minister of Interior regarding possible Italian support to develop local municipalities in exchange for tackling the migration issue.
This article was republished with explicit permission from the author.