OPINION – 'Wolf Rule': Farewell to Haftar

Alaturka Politika Haberleri

[Cengiz Tomar serves as vice chancellor of the Ahmet Yesevi International Turkish-Kazakh University]

ISTANBUL (AA) – The putschist general Khalifa Haftar has been losing a lot of blood recently against the legitimate forces of the Fayez al-Sarraj government in Libya, which is also supported by Turkey. He is about to be abandoned by his supporters and partisans following the loss of the sturdy and strategical al-Watiya base, which had been built in the 1940s by the US in the west of the country, on the Tunisian border, in a distance of 150 km to the capital Tripoli. As we were defeated when Germany was defeated in the First World War, I wonder if the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Russia, France, Saudi Arabia, Greece, and even the United States behind Haftar will be considered defeated. But Russian experts, who are very uncomfortable with the images, were bewailing when they see the pathetic situation of the destroyed Pantsir air defense systems saying that ”we gave them the instruction manual in Arabic, but why did this happen?". However, they should have forecasted this from the experience they had gained from the regime soldiers in Syria.

According to the Libyan sources, Egypt and the UAE have already started looking for alternative names for Haftar, whose time has come to an end. Russia and France are also known to be uncomfortable with Haftar, who withdrew from the Skhirat Agreement by declaring himself as the sole ruler of Libya. “Diplomacy is needed to end the Libyan crisis,” said the UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, who is very sharp-tongued when it comes to the Ottomans and Turks. Good morning! Those who, with their financial support, turned Libya into a secondhand warrior junkyard for rent/sale and helped Haftar escape from the diplomatic desk in Moscow, suddenly thought of diplomacy at the al-Watiya base. On the other hand, the most striking explanation came from the spokesman of Haftar: Ahmed al-Mismari, who earlier made a statement flattering us as by stating that “a Turkish cannon prevented us from entering Tripoli,” and also reminded us of Nasreddin Hodja's “I was going to land anyway” remark by also making an astounding statement that they were “completely withdrawn from these regions for tactical reasons”. This statement also brought to mind the spokesman of Saddam, who talked on television about the victories of Saddam while Baghdad was being occupied. In the Middle East, humor does not have an end. That is why people coming from the area are asked, “what is the last joke?” If Egypt's famous comedian Adel Imam follows the developments, he would probably retire by saying, “I'm not needed anymore."

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Since we have no room to explain the developments after 2014, in other words, the second act of the Libyan War, let's just remind ourselves of the events that took place in the last year. We know that since April 2019, Haftar launched a major offensive to completely dominate the country by capturing the capital Tripoli, drove the Sarraj government into a corner, and left them in a very difficult position. The Sarraj administration, which defended the capital for a long time, changed the game by signing a security and cooperation agreement in the Mediterranean that was also in the interest of Turkey. Emerging from a defensive position behind this agreement, the Sarraj administration launched the “Peace storm” Operation on 25 March, and they had reduced the Haftar forces significantly within 20 days. The Libyan army had achieved many successes against Haftar's militias in a short period, and on 13 April, it announced that it had cleared 3 thousand square kilometers of territory from the capital Tripoli to the Tunisian border. Haftar declared himself the sole leader of Libya as if ”the hungry chicken thought itself to be in the millet barn", and many countries, including his supporters, reacted to this. Finally, the al-Watiya base came under the control of the Sarraj government with the so-called ”Rage Volcano" operation.

Following the removal of the pressure on Tripoli, the goal of Sarraj forces would henceforth be the expansion of their territory on the West Coast of Libya. Isbia, Tarhune, and Beni Waleed are the first targets, followed by Sirte on the coast. It is not possible for Haftar forces, which have been demoralized and ridiculed in the international press, to attack western Libya again. After that, it is only possible with the direct involvement of Haftar supporter countries in the war. On the other hand, these countries have not been willing to intervene directly in the field so far. In an environment where the Covid-19 has shaken up the economies, that seems quite unlikely. However, as it can be figured out from the initial statements, at least, talks could begin again to preserve eastern Libya.

Of course, there is also the Aguila Saleh Issa dimension of the event. Aguila Saleh Issa is the head of Parliament, a resident in Tobruk, and supported by the tribes. His project is considered more peaceful by the supporters of Haftar. This scenario would likely come to the agenda after Sahin Haftar, who thinks he will solve everything with power, has his wings broken by the Turkish-backed legitimate government. If there is no political solution, the danger of splitting Libya into three is among the possible scenarios. Of course, the attitude of the Haftar supporter countries is very important. For Haftar, the first signals from Russia, Egypt, and the UAE are in the consistency of the folk song “Looks like the end of the road”. Public support for Haftar is also very low. After the defeat of Al-Watiya, Aguila Saleh has become ”in“ and Haftar ”out" in the Association of the "Putschist Haftar Lovers". Meanwhile, news comes that his men have also betrayed Haftar.

We will watch and see: Will everything develops in Haftar's terms, as the proverb “the one who falls shall have no friends” in its Arabic provision, or the support will support continue to lead Libya towards a partition? The aforementioned Arabic proverb says: ”When the calf falls to the ground, the knives swarm over it".

*Opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.

*Translated by Merve Dastan in Ankara.

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