Libyan National Army (LNA) forces loyal to the House of Representatives (HoR) government under the command of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar have been waging a concerted campaign to seize, hold, and control the oil resource-rich Fezzan province in Libya’s south-central region in order to prevent the United Nations-backed, Government of National Accord (GNA) from entering the province (al-Araby al-Jadid, July 17; al-Quds al-Arabi, June 13; al-Ghad, March 7).
The LNA campaign—ongoing since February—intends to bring the major trans-Sahara entry and transit point for sub-Saharan migrants under the control of the HoR government. The route is used by migrants seeking to enter Europe via the Mediterranean traveling from Libya. By controlling Fezzan province, Haftar hopes to further legitimize his forces by establishing dominance over strategic energy resources that are being exploited by European countries and to hold power over the transit routes for African mass migration toward Europe that is of great concern to European countries (al-Araby al-Jadid, July 17; al-Quds al-Arabi, June 13; Libya Akhbar [Tripoli], January 25).
The GNA has sought to counter Haftar by installing one of his former colleagues, General Ali Muhammad Sulayman Kanna, one of the most powerful leaders from Fezzan, as the commander of its forces in the strategic southern Libyan region (al-Jazeera [Doha], February 7; al-Araby al-Jadid, February 6).