Thu May 30, 2024
May 30, 2024

The Fall of Al-Watiya and the Battle for Tripoli

On February 17, 2011 a democratic revolution begins in Libya that culminates in the overthrow of the regime and the dismantling of the Libyan bourgeois state. In 2014 Libya is divided between two forces. The GNC (General National Council) based in Tripoli, and the HoR (House of Representatives) based in Tobruk on the border with Egypt. The outsider LNA (Libyan National Army) led by Khalifa al-Haftar also operated from Benghazi and Tobruk in the Libyan east. And there are armed popular militias everywhere.

By Fabio Bosco, Brazil     5/21/2020


The imperialist powers sought a solution based on the Skhirat agreement of December 2015. This agreement had four main goals:

1) the resumption of oil and gas production and export by the state company NOC (National Oil Company) in partnership with multinationals;

2) the unification of parliaments and the formation of a unified pro-imperialist government called the National Accord Government (GNA);

3) the formation of a unified national army (and the consequent disarmament of popular militias) and

4) the fight against forces linked to Al-Qaeda and Daesh that then ruled oil regions in the center of the country.

For the GNA there was agreement around Fayez al-Serraj, a member of the HoR from Tripoli. However, the Skhirat agreement failed.

From its failure, a new alternative emerged. Khalifa al-Haftar was a general of the old regime who, before the revolution, took refuge in the United States where he worked with the CIA. Funded by the United Arab Emirates(I), counting on logistical support from Egypt, armaments and mercenaries from Russia, and also support from France and Israel(II), he gathered support from the parliament of Tobruk, from various tribes to the east and south of Libya to form the LNA (Libyan National Army). His plan is to unify the country manu militari and impose a “secular” and pro-imperialist dictatorship following the Egyptian model. The LNA is made up of a few thousand Sudanese mercenaries, 1200 Russian mercenaries from the Wagner company, some Syrian linked to Bashar el-Assad regime and local militiamen.

In April 2019 General Khalifa al-Haftar launched himself to conquer the capital Tripoli. However, resistance from popular militias in the capital and several cities in western Libya prevented the fall of Tripoli which was under siege. After an agreement with the Turkish government in January 2020 and the subsequent deployment of at least 5,000 Syrian fighters, thousands of drones and missiles, the forces linked to the National Accord Government resumed the entire coastline from the border with Tunisia to Misrata and on May 18, they took over the strategic al-Watiya air base, 125 km south of the capital, breaking the siege of Tripoli.

The next major battle will be around the city of Tarhouna where the LNA militias is based to organize for the offensive against the capital. Despite recent victories based on Syrian soldiers and advanced Turkish drone technology, the country’s future is still uncertain as supporters of Khalifa al-Haftar tend to expand their military support in order not to lose positions in a future negotiation on Libya’s future.



The strength of the Libyan revolution brought oil and gas exports whose main beneficiaries were Italian and French imperialism and the Gaddafi family to a halt.

Resumed later, 90% of 1.3 million barrels exports were interrupted on January 2020 by the LNA that controls the ports in the center of the country.

The national economy revolves around the export of oil and gas. Recently, another illegal economic activity has emerged which is the control of the transit of refugees to Europe, operated by armed mafias.

The global economic crisis amplified by the coronavirus pandemic has a devastating impact on oil prices, the basis of the national economy.

The possibility of rebuilding a unified bourgeois state is small in the short term. This reconstruction would depend on a definitive military victory, either by the GNA or the LNA; or an agreement between the two; or even the emergence of a third force, whether national or foreign.

Yet the working people needs to reclaim the perspective of a second national independence and workers’ power.

The first step in this direction is to build its independent organization vis-à-vis the two bourgeois and pro-imperialist camps, be it the LNA or the GNA. This independent organization must be social, political and military.

Only this perspective can unite the working people of cities and oil fields with tribes scattered across the country and popular militias to build a workers’ and people’s government that can nationalize oil and gas, reorganize the entire economy of the country, impose workers’ democracy, break up with imperialism and link up with the struggles and revolutions in neighboring countries to move towards a Federation of socialist Arab and / or African countries.




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