Fighters with the self-styled Libyan National Army patrol the roads leading into Benghazi. The army's commander, Khalifa Hifter, is rumored to be incapacitated by a stroke or heart attack. The fate of the Libyan conflict is deeply tied to Hifter's own.
It's been a momentous week in Libyan politics. Media in the country have been reporting that Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, the 75-year-old commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, has suffered either a stroke or a heart attack and is now receiving treatment in France. Unsurprisingly, the Libyan National Army has been quick to shoot down the rumors amid conflicting reports that Hifter instead fell ill on an international trip and sought treatment in Paris. Enjoying the support of powerful international actors, Hifter is perhaps the single most powerful military commander -- if not the most powerful person -- in the Libyan conflict, yet his staunch anti-Islamist position and stubbornness to accept civilian rule has made him a divisive figure. If Hifter has indeed slipped into a coma or is suffering from major health complications, the news will reverberate throughout the Libyan conflict. But even if rumors of Hifter's imminent demise...
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