Libyans protest French intervention in Eastern Libya. Photo source: AFP
Civilians in Benghazi say they have seen French air crafts involved in airstrikes on their city. Local militias also say they have seen the French air crafts in addition to Egyptian military air crafts.
Shelling by General Khalifa Haftar’s forces on Benghazi escalated since France admitted to having troops in eastern Libya.
Haftar continues to reject the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the city’s capital.
Mattia Toaldo, the European Council on Foreign Relations policy fellow focusing on Libya, said that foreign countries support Haftar with the assumption that he is the force fighting ISIS in eastern Libya. The foreign support for Haftar “is creating problems to the political process because Haftar is not cooperating with the government of national unity,” said Toaldo.
Toaldo further explains that Haftar “uses any foreign support as a way to show to his people and to the people of Libya that he is the gatekeeper of external help.”
Though the GNA is the only official Libyan government backed by the United Nations and recognized by the international community there are speculation that a number of foreign governments sending their troops or special forces to Libya without seeking the GNA’s permission.
According to Toaldo France is not the only foreign power operating in eastern Libya. In February the presence of Egyptian troops or special forces was documented. There have been also intelligence officers from the United States, Britain, and Italians in eastern Libya.
Illegitimate foreign involvement in Libya has shaken up the already fragile nation making its path to a developing democracy much more challenging.