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Libyan Strongman Haftar’s Offensive to Capture Tripoli Stalls

An offensive to capture Tripoli by the Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by strongman Khalifa Haftar, has stalled, even though his backers continue to support the military effort as they consider him most capable of ending nearly a decade of chaos in the war-torn country. Haftar’s eastern-based LNA—supported primarily by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France—advanced to the outskirts of the capital nearly two weeks ago, with many predicting a quick and decisive victory over an amalgamation of fighting factions loyal to the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. Haftar, a former general in deposed dictator Moammar Qaddafi’s army, has been increasing troop numbers amid an intensifying air campaign on Tripoli, which he painted as necessary to restore order by eliminating jihadists. The development has again scuttled a United Nations peace plan for Libya by forcing the postponement of a national reconciliation conference planned for this week. It also threatens to disrupt oil exports from the OPEC nation and precipitate another wave of mass migration to Europe.