Is Operation Dignity Receiving Further Air Support from the UAE?
Gharyan, a town south of Tripoli and allied with Operation Dawn Forces, suffered airstrikes at the hands of Operation Dignity forces on Monday. Ammunition depots belonging to Operation Dawn forces were believed to be targeted, according to locals. Meanwhile, Operation Dignity Forces loyal to former Libyan army general Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi threatened to bomb the city’s port unless authorities close the port. Also, a grad rocket hit an area close to Libya’s 120,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Zawiya west of the capital Tripoli, state news agency LANA said on Monday.
The target points of these attacks seem to share one common attribute, in that they are all strongholds of Operation Dawn. In addition to the town of Gharyan, Zawyia’s political and tribal factions have also aligned themselves with the Misratan-led Operation Dawn. The airstrikes demonstrate that Operation Dignity and its allies in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia appear to be making a push either take back the nation’s capital or show that they can still inflict damage on their enemies away from their bases in Libya’s extreme East. The anti-Islamist camp is also renewing its effort to stop the flow of weapon supplies to Islamists in Benghazi by ordering the local authorities to close the port. Despite calls to close the port in August and the instability facing the country, the port is currently still working at 70 percent of its full capacity.
It will be interesting to see if Operation Dignity-aligned forces from Zintan or Wershafena attempt to supplement these airstrikes with a ground attack. But this seems quite unlikely as Operation Dignity forces have been awfully quiet in the last month, a strategy that is most likely temporary as troops regroup, yet could be semi-permanent as the Zintanis may be a totally spent force at this point. If the latter is the case it is unclear what such airstrikes can do to tip the balance of power. They seem yet another example of a miscalculation on behalf of the Arab backers of Haftar that only further polarizes the sides and leads to sympathy for the Islamist on behalf of the population.