Libyan Military Splinters as Rivals Prepare for Civil War

Govt Courts Islamist Militias as Last Chance to Retain Power

The weekend takeover of Libya’s parliament by the leader of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army and its head Gen. Khalifa Hifter has made an unstable situation much worse, and has the nation’s countless armed factions picking sides for what is shaping up to be a full-scale civil war.

Though Gen. Hifter’s Army is itself just another “irregular force,” parts of Libya’s actual military are rushing to his side, including the Special Forces, which endorsed Hifter’s “Operation Dignity” against Islamist MPs.

Libya’s Army Chief of Staff, which remains loyal to the government, appears to know it can’t win the fight alone, and has issued a call for the Islamist dominated militias to come to Tripoli to fight by their side to restore the power of Prime Minister Malteeq, whose government was in power for only a few hours before the coup.

Malteeq’s power bloc was overwhelmingly Islamist MPs, which likely played a role in Hifter’s allegation of an Islamist takeover of parliament. That the military is now putting out an SOS call to Islamist fighters to save his government is likely to add to the division between Hifter’s anti-Islamist coup forces and the remaining loyalists.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.