Monday, May 19, 2014
Who is General Khalifa Heftir?
After being sentenced to death by Gaddafi and 20 years of living as a dissident in the United States, General Heftir felt compelled in 2011 to return to Libya at the beginning of the Libyan Revolution, to help depose Ghaddafi. With his strong military background and support from the rebels, Heftir was successful in taking charge of the military campaign, finally helping the rebels free Libya of Gaddafi's ruthless dictatorship.
In the past 4 years following the Revolution, the political and socio-economic situation in Libya has gradually declined.
The militias who once fought together for a common cause fragmented, each one wanting to be rewarded in one way or another for their role in the revolution. Added to that, Islamist extremists, who went underground or were imprisoned during the Gaddafi years, emerged in large numbers with alarming violence. Thuggery, kidnappings and assassinations became the norm in the lives for Libyans who had anticipated democracy and freedom after Gaddafi.
The elected government, or GNC, has been weak, and impotent or unwilling to combat the threats and actions of certain militias and extremists, who are heavily fortified by weapons left over from the revolution. Benghazi, in eastern Libya, has suffered the most from certain groups, in particular the Ansar Al-Sharia. In addition to being the group linked to the assassination of Ambassador Stevens and three American personnel at the Consulate, they have also been involved in many assassinations of Libyans as well as foreigners.
Once again, the man who had once fought one enemy, has emerged to lead a campaign against the Islamists of his hometown, Benghazi. This is General Kalifa Heftir.