Libya has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with divisions between foreign states ensuring that the the war does not come to an end.
When General Khalifa Haftar returned to Libya after the overthrow of ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, he found little support either inside or outside the country.
That had changed by the time the warlord attempted and failed to oust the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli in February 2014.
After Haftar failed to capture Tripoli, he turned on Benghazi, the country’s eastern metropol, with Operation Karama.
Through the financial and military backing from Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el Sisi, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, Haftar was able to capture Benghazi within three years.
In response to the Libyan crisis, Western states tried to reconcile the two rival Libyan governments under a UN-sponsored plan to form a unity government, which led to the establishment of the Tripoli-based GNA (Government of National Accord).
Who’s backing which party in Libya?
Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and France to a lesser extent, backed the eastern government and Haftar’s forces.
In turn, Turkey and Qatar supported the government in Tripoli, which is the internationally and UN recognised government.
Some countries, such as France, have been supplying help to both sides, though under different pretexts.
France announced in March that it would provide the Libyan coastguard with six new boats by June, in cooperation with the European Union.
The plan aims to control the Libyan sea border to combat ‘illegal’ immigration.
The Libyan coast guard is officially part of and administered by the Tripoli-based government.
Why are international powers getting involved in the country?
Since outside actors have been offering training, arms, and financial support to Libyan factions on their side, the militias have had little incentive to end the conflict.
Regional players have built alliances to serve their own interests and can shift sides when they need to, as France’s example illustrates.
“Unity had proved elusive. The international community recognised the GNA in Tripoli, led by Fayez al Sarraj, was dependent on a network of militias for its defence, while a rival administration continued in the east allied to Haftar,” analyst Ibrahim Al Marashi wrote for TRT World.
“Regardless, the current fighting in Libya will only exacerbate the massive cost paid by Libyan civilians in terms of life, health, and property”, he added.