Haftar says the LNA ‘will enter Tripoli sooner or later’ in lengthy interview
On 4 November, Libyan National Army (LNA) leader Khalifa Haftar gave an exclusive and rare interview with the Independent Arabic. Haftar said that there was no doubt that the LNA would win the current conflict and that his forces would enter the capital ‘sooner rather than later.’
Haftar claimed that he is fighting according to a precise military plan that prioritizes the safety of the citizens of the capital and the city’s facilities, saying it is only concern for civilian lives that is slowing the advances of his troops. Haftar also claimed that he has no intention of ruling Libya and that such reports are propaganda being spread by traitors and the Muslim Brotherhood. In response to a question about the Berlin Conference on Libya, Haftar said he ‘wished it success’ if it ever took place, but reiterated that there is currently no agenda and that he is convinced that the elimination of terrorism and the dismantling of the militias must be addressed first.
Given that the military stalemate in Tripoli persists, albeit with a slight shift in favour of the LNA in terms of territorial gain and momentum, the timing and tone of this interview suggest that Haftar hopes to use this open posturing to apply pressure on the anti-LNA fighters, while appealing to the war-weary Tripoli population. This could be a strategy to accelerate the growing fractures and fatigue within the anti-LNA coalition and cultivate support for the LNA among communities who may be willing to ‘flip’ – this would allow the LNA a greater chance of increasing its territorial gains south of Tripoli without additional external support. Alternatively, it could indicate that the LNA has received (or hopes for) guarantees that it will be granted increased support from its international backers in order to facilitate the LNA’s entry into Tripoli. Either way, this interview indicates that Haftar has no intentions of ending his military campaign in Tripoli anytime soon and that the conflict is very likely to continue, and possibly intensify, in the coming weeks.