Libya, just like Iraq, has been mired in violence ever since the US-led war on the country six years ago destroyed all semblance of stability in the formerly prosperous nation, and Benghazi regrettably became a buzzword for bedlam during this period. Not only was it the epicenter of the Hybrid War against former leader Muammar Gaddafi, but it was also the scene of a deadly terrorist attack against the American consulate which resulted in the brutal killing of the US Ambassador and an explosive scandal for the Obama Administration.
Suffice to say, no city represented the evils of war in Libya more than Benghazi did, just like Mosul came to be associated with Daesh over the past couple of years after its assassinated ‘caliph’ declared the so-called “Islamic State” there in 2014, so it’s symbolically important that both cities have just been freed from the terrorists’ clutches. The most immediately striking difference between the two, however, is that the entire world applauded Mosul’s liberation but has yet to show the same enthusiasm in welcoming Benghazi’s, and this is probably because of the domestic circumstances behind the latest victory. Unlike in Iraq where the internationally recognized military and its allied militias freed the long-captured city from Daesh, Benghazi was liberated by General Haftar and his unrecognized, self-declared government based in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk.
The international community has yet to reach a clear consensus on how to resolve the ongoing Libyan Civil War, despite a landmark deal being agreed to by both sides in early May, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty about the direction that this domestic conflict will go, as well as what its potential resolution will look like. These concerns seem to have dampened the euphoria behind Benghazi’s liberation and made the city take a backseat to the international media coverage over Mosul. Be that as they may, ignoring an issue won’t make it go away, and the on-the-ground traction that General Haftar has gained after the Battle of Benghazi makes him the most decisive military-political force in the war-torn country today, and could potentially earn him the kingmaker’s spot in deciding Libya’s future.
Andrew Jorybko is joined by Petri Krohn, Finnish political commentator and co-founder of "Citizen's Investigation Into War Crimes in Libya", and Ali Musawi, war correspondent covering the liberation of Mosul in Iraq.
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