An AV-8B Harrier takes off from the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp on Dec. 5, 2016, conducting precision air strikes in support of the Libyan government against ISIS targets in Sirte, Libya. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Wilkes)

A Massive Proxy Military Escalation Is Taking Place in Libya

As forces aligned with Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) recaptured Al-Watiyah base in the country’s West from Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), a telling image circulated on social media accounts.

A picture snapped at the airbase showed a Pantsir Russian missile defence system, placed on the back of a German military truck, procured to assist Haftar’s forces by the United Arab Emirates, perfectly encapsulating the internationalisation of Libya’s protracted conflict. As Libya watchers have long noted, the path to peace and stability in the war-torn country will have to be paved as much in Moscow, Abu Dhabi and Ankara as in Tripoli and Tobruk. Yet the events of recent weeks suggest that hopes for de-escalation and disengagement on the part of international backers will likely be dashed once more.

In January of this year, states with interests in the conflict met in Berlin to make lofty pledges on bringing Libya’s conflict to an end. Yet these commitments have proven insincere. Since January, thousands of tons of military hardware and personnel have streamed into the North African state.

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