Clashes in Tripoli as Coup General Gains New Allies

Military Intelligence, Air Force Chiefs Back Coup

Clashes are being reported across Tripoli today and Brigadier General Hassan Abu-Shanaq, the head of Libya’s Navy, was badly wounded in a failed assassination attempt, as General Khalifa Hifter pushes his ongoing coup attempt.

Hifter, a Gadhafi-era general turned CIA-backed rebel general turned self-proclaimed general in the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army, took over parliament militarily on Sunday, dubbing his takeover “Operation Dignity.”

Gen. Hifter objected to the growing Islamist influence in parliament, and has found backers in high places. The head of Libya’s Special Forces had already approved of Hifter and now both the Military Intelligence and Air Force chiefs have backed the coup. Some reports also claimed the Interior Ministry had switched to Hifter’s side, but officials from the ministry have since disputed that.

The general is ruling out negotiations, saying he believes that force is the only solution. The other side still has significant portions of Libya’s admittedly feckless military, but more importantly commands the support of many large Islamist militias. Both sides are lining up to turn the ongoing coup into an incipient civil war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of