General Khalifa Haftar has made further progress in his efforts to ‘liberate’ Benghazi from the grip of Islamist militants. This week has seen his Operation Dignity forces extend their control into more neighbourhoods and take over a number of strategic targets belonging to the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council – the umbrella group for Islamist brigades and groups in the city including Ansar Al-Sharia.
Also fighting with Haftar is the federalist Cyrenaican Defence Force that is led by Faraj Al-Barassi, loyal to Ibrahim Jadhran, and concentrated in villages around the east of the city. News that this force had entered Benghazi’s eastern gate this week prompted fears in Tripoli that a victory by Haftar could ultimately lead to secession by the east. Such fears are clearly inflated given that the majority of forces fighting with Operation Dignity, like the majority of the HoR, are opposed to the idea of a divided Libya.