Cairo- Armed forces led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar announced a “great victory” against extremist fighters in Libya’s Benghazi earlier on Thursday, which indefinitely entailed adjustments to political stances of diplomats who had long considered Haftar short to a hostile threat.
More so, the same diplomats turning the tables today had once vigorously fought against the Marshal keeping his military post as the general commander of the national army. In 2015, Haftar was appointed commander of the armed forces loyal to the elected, internationally backed government, the Council of Deputies.
Haftar held a senior position in the forces which overthrew despot Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 Libyan Civil War. In 2014 he was commander of the Libyan Army when the General National Congress (GNC) allegedly refused to give up power in accordance with its term of office.
U.N. envoy to Libya Martin Kobler had adopted a novel rhetoric, shining with a sympathetic and a cooperative note—he tweeted earlier that the Libyan National Army, led by Haftar, is sacrificing greatly in its counterterrorism efforts and recorded advances.
Kobler added that fighting off terror is to everyone’s best interest.
The U.S. envoy to Libya, Jonathan Winer, also publicized a rare show of support for the forces of Haftar.
“Tough sacrifices by #Libya National Army soldiers this week reported – 20 killed & 40 injured in counter terror fighting in Benghazi,” he wrote on Twitter.
UK diplomat Peter Millett noted that the army had liberated Gwarsha from terror’s hold, adding: “Condolences to the families of LNA martyrs”.
This is the first time all three diplomats refer to the Haftar-led forces as Libya’s national army– which opposing to previous remarks, gives the LNA legitimacy under Haftar’s commandership.
Benghazi, birthplace of the 2011 revolution which toppled Libya’s longtime tyrant Gaddafi, has been the scene of daily clashes for the past two years between Haftar’s forces and armed hardliners holding onto strategic city pockets.