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The Libyan crisis: Who is strongman Khalifa Haftar?


He is the face of the eastern Libyan government. Recent military push by his forces to take control of Tripoli has thrust him onto the international stage once more.

But who exactly is Khalifa Haftar? Here is a brief profile of the man. Libya’s military strong man, Khalifa Haftar was born in 1943 in the country’s eastern city of Ajdabiya.

He studied at al-Huda School in Ajdabiya in 1957 and then moved to Derna to obtain his secondary education between 1961 and 1964.

Haftar joined Benghazi’s military academy in 1961. At the age of 26, he took part in the coup that brought Muammar Gaddafi to power in 1969.

And in 1980, Gaddafi promoted Haftar to the rank of a colonel and sent him to fight in Chad where he was captured by Chadians in 1987.

With the start of anti-Gaddafi uprisings in 2011, the field marshal returned to Libya where he became a key commander of the makeshift rebel force in the east.

The commander defected from the Libyan army upon his release. Backed by the CIA, he formed the military wing for the National Front for the Salvation of Libya to overthrow Gaddafi.

Khalifa Haftar later rose to power in February 2014 when he called on Libyans to topple the elected parliament and the General National Congress.

He survived an assassination attempt on June 4, 2014 then faded into obscurity until the launch of Operation Dignity.

Libya’s most potent warlord has been active in the country’s political scene for over forty years. He is currently playing a lead role in the second Libyan civil war

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