The air force of Libya's renegade general Khalifa Haftar on Saturday attacked positions of Islamist-leaning militia in Tripoli for the second time in less than a week, one of his commanders said.The group attacked, Operation Dawn, said the attacks killed ten people and wounded dozens more. A local television station spoke of not one plane but of planes hitting four positions held by Operation Dawn. A spokesperson for Operation Dawn said that buildings of the state oil firm al-Waha near the airport were also hit, as well as the headquarters of the chief of staff that was under Operation Dawn control. Haftar is not believed to be in control of any aircraft that had the ability to carry out these night raids. Local Libyan TV stations speculated that the plane may have come from neighboring countries such as Egypt or western countries concerned about Libya becoming a failed state and a haven for Islamic militants. It is hard to see how an isolated bombing of a few positions held by pro-Islamist militias would do anything other than make the situation worse.
Even though this is the second set of bombings within a week, mainstream press interest seems minimal and so far there are almost no analytical articles trying to piece together what is happening. Most reports do not mention Haftar's links to the CIA nor do the most recent reports I have read mention Haftar's own remarks to the effect that these bombings are a joint effort with the international community.
An earlier article notes about the first strikes on Monday this week:
The source told New York Times journalist Osama al-Fitory that the bombs were dropped by a Sukhoi Su-24 plane, in a “joint operation” between Haftar’s forces and the international community."The Libyan air force is not believed to have such a plane which is a Soviet era aircraft. Authorities in Egypt have refused to comment as to whether an Egyptian aircraft was involved according to one source. The same source notes that some in Libya are suggesting the plane was obtained from Russia. However, there does not even seem to be any confirmation that the plane was the Sukhoi Su-24 let alone where it came from. Haftar's own remarks suggest that the plane could be part of the foreign or international community support for his operation.
The second strike may represent some desperation on the part of the Haftar-allied militias. Fighters of the pro-Islamist Libyan Central Shield umbrella group claim to have now captured the airport. This was reported on a TV station that allegedly has links to the fighters. This would be a major defeat for the Zintan brigades who previously provided security for the airport even though they are the same group that earlier, on Haftar's behalf, attacked parliament and burned it as well as kidnapping a number of legislators. None of this seems to be important news in the west. The only important event since the downfall of Gadaffi for many in the western media has been an attack on the consulate in Benghazi that killed the American ambassador and several other Americans.
The Libyan Central Shield also took control of an army base south of Tripoli which was one of the targets in the latest air strike as well as a nearby warehouse. General Haftar was accused by the former government of mounting a coup. However, the new parliament is said to have a majority of anti-Islamists who may be more favorable to Haftar, although since all candidates ran as independents it may be too soon to assess their leanings. A long, detailed, excellent account of the career of General Haftar by Barak Barfi who is a research fellow at the New American Foundation can be found here . One of his recommendations as to what the US should do in Libya is particularly interesting:
Washington and its partners should persuade the new Libyan government to appoint Haftar as chief of staff. Respected by his troops, he has the military skills and combat experience necessary to create a modern army. But most important, he is the sole Libyan willing to take on the Islamist militias that are preventing the establishment of a modern state
In May of this year, Haftar began his Operation Dignity with unauthorized attacks on two Islamist militia bases in Benghazi. As of now his own base has been captured by an umbrella group of Islamic militias. The group also is said to control Benghazi and Haftar is apparently confined to an airport on the outskirts. The new Libyan parliament was to meet in Benghazi where Haftar is based rather than Tripoli the capital and former site of parliament. The new parliament had to meet in the far eastern city of Tobruk. An Al Jazeera documentary from June of this year is appended and has some discussion of Operation Dignity as well as reporting on the varying attitudes toward Haftar and his anti-Islamist program.