What would Haftar’s victory in Derna mean for Libya?
By Menas Associates, May 13, 2018
May 15, 2018 - 3:57:47 PM
Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar has launched a major operation to take control of the eastern coastal town of Derna after the fourth anniversary of his Operation Dignity campaign in Benghazi, which began in 2014.
In a speech, Haftar declared boldly that the ‘zero hour’ had arrived and that it was time to ‘liberate Derna’, which is under the control of Islamist militants – the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC).
If Haftar succeeds in taking Derna (which is not a definite certainty) it will have important consequences for him and Libya. It will mean that Haftar will finally have the east fully under his control, making him the true controller of the eastern region, which will strengthen his hand both militarily and politically.
Indeed, Haftar’s opponents have long clung on to Derna as evidence that the field marshal is incapable of extending his dominance over the east, let alone the rest of Libya. By taking Derna, he will have succeeded in his quest to eliminate Islamist militant forces from the whole of the east and to bring the region under his command.
In addition, having full control of the east, combined with the control he has over parts of the south, will enable Haftar to present himself as the only power in the whole of Libya worth anything.
More importantly, a victory in Derna, particularly if it is achieved with relative speed, will have important psychological ramifications. To many Libyans, Haftar will appear as an unstoppable force, able to defeat even the most hardened and entrenched of Islamist radicals in what is considered as Libya’s militant Islamist fortress. This would likely bring him further support in western Libya, including in Tripoli, but also in other towns such as Zawia.
While Haftar has some supporters in these areas, they are still largely under the radar. A Derna victory may also prompt former Qadhafi regime supporters to rally behind Haftar in a more concerted fashion, believing that he may truly be the strong man who can protect them and their interests. Having full control of the east would also make Haftar an even more difficult force for the international community to ignore. As such, this is a hugely important campaign for Haftar that has the potential to bolster his power and position to new heights.
Source: Ocnus.net 2018