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What Haftar risks in the event of an attack on Algeria

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Will Khalifa Haftar take the risk of attacking Algeria as suggested by the Government of national unity of Fayez el-Sarraj? Marshal Benghazi has no strategic interest in launching an offensive against the neighbor to the west, thus confronting his troops with the combat units of the 4th military region of the Algerian army.

“If Tripoli falls, Tunis and Algiers will fall in turn. It is an attempt to sow anarchy in the region and to lay hands on North Africa. The declaration launched in an alarmist tone by Fathi Bashagha was only intended to make an impression. The Minister of the Interior of the government of Fayez el-Sarraj had made these remarks during a press conference animated on December 26, in Tunis, the day after the surprise visit carried out in the Tunisian capital by the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. At the end of 2019, Tripoli and Ankara tried to wave the Haftar scarecrow to lead Algeria and Tunisia to join a military alliance.

It is true that the marshal had threatened Algeria in September 2018 by evoking a story of Algerian units which would have entered Libyan territory. “The Algerians have found an opportunity to enter Libya. When we discovered this, I sent General Abdelkrim to Algeria to explain that what had been done was not fraternal. We can transfer the war from east to west in no time” He said in a video recording broadcast on the site of Al Jazeera. It is unlikely that such a case occurred, Algiers being particularly picky about respecting the principle of non-intervention outside its borders. Especially since the Algerian state has always advocated a diplomatic settlement of the Libyan crisis based on an inclusive dialogue.

Concretely, is the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (ANL) of Khalifa Haftar up to the task of facing the National People’s Army (ANP)? ” No chance, ” replied a retired Algerian officer, whether in the context of ” a classic war or an asymmetrical war.”

“Haftar does not have the military or logistical means to attack the Algerian army in what could be called a classic war. For that, it would have to have important resources, devices and vectors in addition to an efficient supply chain. We must not forget that it draws its logistics from Benghazi which is very far from the border with Algeria. Haftar’s aviation, if it exists, will be ineffective against the air forces and anti-aircraft defense of the ANP. It is necessary to understand that Haftar would engage his troops in a fight against the 4th military region which is, by itself, a real army. It will have to face an air-land device endowed with a significant firepower. A system made up of groups of border guards,

Our interlocutor ensures that ” Algeria has conceptually considered itself in a war situation for at least three years “. This is evidenced by the large number of units deployed in the south, especially along the border with Libya, and the multiple military exercises carried out in recent years.

Such a conflict will also play out in the intelligence field, an element that the Algerian army masters through its networks of “friends” in Libyan soil, especially among the tribes who live between the two countries. To this must be added electronic means of information, drones and aerial patrols. And in the event of an asymmetric war, the intelligence community will be on the front line to counter Haftar’s troops.

“The human intelligence factor will play its full role in addition to border guard units and special forces. The Algerian army, which remains a benchmark in the fight against terrorism, has also acquired real combat experience in the Saharan zone,” assures the retired officer.

Haftar having no strategic argument to attack Algeria, he could – let his critics hear – launch a punitive action against the oil and gas installations of the Ghadames basin located on the border with Libya in order to paralyze the economy Algeria, whose position would be ” too neutral “. In addition to not having the firepower necessary to initiate such an operation, it would be counterproductive. Haftar risks, in fact, undergoing a destructive counter-offensive in the Libyan border area which is also very rich in hydrocarbons. The Marshal has no interest in doing so, especially since he and his many allies are committed to the preservation of all Libyan energy resources.

Professor Yahia Zoubir , director of research in geopolitics at the Kedge Business School (Marseille, France) and researcher-resident at the Brookings Doha Center (Qatar), says that the Algerian army will “make a mouthful of Haftar”.

“It is unimaginable that Haftar will attack Algeria. The ANP will make short work of it. The Russians will dissuade him. On the other hand, I don’t think the Egyptians will want such a situation. On the other hand, Haftar could target Tunisia which remains the weak link in the region. Neither France nor the United States will want to destabilize Tunisia, the risks are too big for all parties. But if Haftar’s troops attack Tunisia, I think Algeria will oppose it and help the Tunisian army.”

In this conflict with multiple speakers, Professor Yahia Zoubir notes the double game of France, one of the main supporters of Marshal Haftar, who is also linked to Tunisia by defense agreements. He indicates that France practices a ” contradictory policy ” by supporting Haftar ” for economic reasons linked to access to hydrocarbons ” while being engaged in ” defense interests of Tunisia and part of the Maghreb and Sahel”.

“French policy is at the base of the destruction of Libya since it is this country which launched in March 2011 in attacks against Libyan territory. France is going through an internal crisis and is mired in the Sahel where it has hired troops. Despite this contradictory policy, I don’t think it would go so far as to abandon Tunisia. In my opinion, the French will continue in their double game by helping Haftar while dissuading him from attacking Tunisia directly. The Russians will do the same with Haftar about Algeria,” notes Yahia Zoubir.

In fact, Haftar’s offensives against Algeria and Tunisia must not make us lose sight of the reality on the ground: Marshal Benghazi wants to take Tripoli, which is the key to the financial resources derived from oil revenues. In this conflict which revolves around colossal interests, Fayez el-Sarraj can only count on the support of Recep Tayyip Erdogan who obtained, this Thursday, January 2, the approval of his Parliament to send troops to Libya.

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