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Libya senses foreign military intervention to support Haftar

Libyan forces loyal to Brigadier General Khalifah Haftar sense an imminent foreign military intervention in the escalating crisis in the country, which has intensified after he launched "Operation Dignity" to fight "terrorism" in Benghazi.

Clashes spread to the capital Tripoli when a number of official military units announced that they were joining Haftar's troops. In the meantime, the Libyan government and army, as well as the main political powers in the country, describe his moves as a coup attempt. America has moved 200 US Marines from Spain to Sicily due to concerns over events in Libya. They are part of the "Crisis Response Force" formed after the attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi in 2012.

Previous statements made by Haftar confirm that he has requested intervention by the Egyptian army in Libya. Meanwhile, the sacked ex-prime minister, Ali Zeidan, who supports "Operation Dignity", has jumped on the bandwagon. In a telephone call to "Libya for all the Free" television, Zeidan spoke about communicating with the international community and asking for help in order to "regain the state". He added that "the world will not stand by watching."

A spokesman for the tribes in Libya, Ali Mabrook, appealed to Egypt through a similar call to Egyptian TV. Calling for support against Islamists in Libya, he insisted that the Muslim Brotherhood in the country "cannot be removed without full Egyptian support".

Despite a denial by the US State Department of any recent communication with Brig. Gen. Haftar, fears are rising in Libya that foreign military intervention in the crisis might be imminent. This is in light of the continuing armed clashes between forces loyal to Haftar and troops under the command of the army's joint staff.

According to the representative of the Arab League Secretary General in Libya, "it would do no one any good to side by any party in the Libyan crisis." Nassir Al-Qudwah said that the reports talking about Egyptian intervention in the crisis are baseless and ruled out any possibility that Arab troops would be sent to Libya. "The Arab League can try and help Libya on security issues and help it rebuild the Libyan army but this has to be requested by the Libyans themselves," he insisted.

The US Marines in Sicily are there, he added, to help airlift American subjects from Libya should the crisis escalate further. However, Pentagon spokesperson Steve Warren said that the marines are part of "a contingency plan because we believe that the security situation in North Africa is deteriorating to a level that could pose a threat." The US Army is on alert, he added. There are known to be hundreds of US "diplomats and security personnel" in Libya.

 

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