In Libya, Khalifa Haftar accumulates setbacks in Tripolitania

A screenshot of a video published on April 27 by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
A screenshot of a video published on April 27 by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. HANDOUT / via REUTERS TV

Is it too much? The thrust to the potentially destabilizing impact for the whole of its military strategy? The loss on Monday May 18 by Khalifa Haftar of his military base of Al-Watiya in western Libya confirms that the tide has indeed turned in the offensive which the dissident marshal launched in April 2019 against the government of agreement National (GAN) based in Tripoli. This new setback, which is added to the ouster in mid-April of pro-Haftar forces from the coastal localities of Sabratha and Sorman, located less than 70 km from the capital, illustrates above all the increasing effectiveness of support military that the Turks provide to the GAN of Faïez Sarraj.

After having been very weakened at the end of the year by the firepower of the National Libyan Army (ANL) of Haftar, actively supported militarily and financially by a coalition of foreign sponsors – United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Russia – the Tripoli GAN was able to regain the advantage thanks to unprecedented support from Ankara.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also War in Libya: Marshal Haftar weakened by the increasing involvement of the Turks

The latter indeed installed in Tripolitania a string of anti-aircraft defenses while introducing a new generation of drones – the Anka-S – which allowed the anti-Haftar forces to regain control of the sky. The assistance of the Turks is the product of a security and maritime agreement signed at the end of November between Ankara and Tripoli at a critical period when the GAN of Sarraj seemed helpless in the face of the very deadly battering blows inflicted in certain pockets of the capital by the mercenaries. security company Wagner, Haftar's allies. Although recognized by the United Nations, the Tripoli GAN then seemed very isolated on the international scene.

New military data

The recovery of Al-Watiya indicates that the balance of power has been reversed. "With pride and honor, we declare the release of the Al-Watiya military base from the grip of criminal militias and terrorist mercenaries (pro-Haftar) ", rejoiced on Monday Faïez Sarraj. The reconquest of Al-Watiya is emblematic in many ways.

First because it was the only military enclave of Haftar in Tripolitania before the launching of its assault on the capital in April 2019. The marshal had seized it during the civil war of summer 2014 thanks to his allies premises of Zintan, a powerful city in this region of Jebel Nefoussa not far from the Tunisian border.

Second, because the circumstances of its resumption illustrate, like a textbook case, the new military data in this region of western Libya. Two vehicles carrying the Russian Pantsir anti-aircraft system, which had just been delivered to the Al-Watiya base, were destroyed on Saturday and Sunday by Turkish drones under a now-usual scenario.

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