Libya Contemplates a Future Without Khalifa Hifter

Apr 14, 2018 | 14:11 GMT

Fighters with the self-styled Libyan National Army, commanded by Khalifa Hifter, patrol the roads leading into Benghazi on Feb. 7, 2018.

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.



  • Khalifa Hifter has tied Libya's future to his own, but he will have difficulty in unifying the country because of his divisive nature.
  • The contours of Libya's conflict will change dramatically if rumors of Hifter's ill health are true.
  • Hifter's erstwhile backers in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will continue to shift toward working with others in Libya.
  • Changes in the balance of power in Tripoli that have resulted in the ouster of Misratan and Islamist militias could pave the way for a deal involving Hifter's Libyan National Army.

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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