Libyan Army Chief and long-time CIA asset Gen. Khalifa Hifter attempted a military coup back in 2014. It didn’t exactly take, but his ambition to see his military in control of Libyan politics has not changed, with new reports that he and his top generals are expelling elected officials in multiple cities, replacing them with military loyalists.
The attacks are not just an attempt to control municipal politics, but are also aiming to pick fights with potential rivals. Ajdabiya mayor Saleem Jodran, whose brother is in charge of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, was announced by the Army to have been removed from power, and a municipal council member who was a supporter of Hifter was named as his replacement.
Hifter’s Army is loyal to the Tobruk parliament, at least nominally, while the Petroleum Facilities Guard is the primary combat force loyal to the unity government in Tripoli. With the two factions at odds, it appears the Army was uncomfortable with a relative of the facilities guard leader.
This isn’t an isolated incident. Hifter’s deputy, Gen. Abdul-Rezzaq al-Nadouri, has ordered Benghazi’s mayor fired, and one of the army’s intelligence officers installed in his place, and ordered all mayors in eastern Libya not to attend the next meeting of municipality leaders, scheduled for next week. He added that no mayor should take part in any meeting without prior permission from him and the military.