For years, the Libyan crisis unfolded without raising much public attention. The turmoil and the actors involved in it were so complex that only experts could fully understand them. Matters have become simpler, as two separate camps have emerged, each supported by their own constellation of alliances. In the West, the official government, led in Tripoli by Faïez Sarraj, is theoretically supported by the international community, and in practice increasingly isolated. In the East, in Cyrenaica, the movement of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, commanding a self-proclaimed "Libyan National Army", is supported by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.
Until a few weeks ago, Haftar's troops were not far from taking Tripoli, thanks in particular to the mercenaries and military equipment provided by Russia. It was at that moment that Turkey decided to throw its weight in on the scale by supporting the official government camp, with (Syrian) mercenaries and direct military support. As in Idlib, in the North-West of Syria, Turkey’s drones caused real damage. At the beginning of June, Haftar's forces had to withdraw to their starting positions. The marshal himself has taken refuge in Egypt and appears to be out of the game while the camp in Tripoli is considering going on the offensive against Sirte, the major point of contention on the demarcation line between the East and the West. The Turks seem to dominate the field, where they are showing off their notorious Ottoman reflexes. As seen from Europe, with its ability to control the flow of migrants coming from sub-Saharan Africa as blackmail (as it previously did with Syrian refugees), Turkey has the upper hand. Nonetheless, Russian Mig-29s and Sukhoi-24s are keeping a close watch at the Juba base.
A major setback for France
In France, commentators seem to unanimously agree on two observations. Firstly, that of a "Syrianization" of the Libyan crisis, to borrow an expression from the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian. What makes Libya similar to Syria today is the open intervention of external powers, the territorial division of the country, the impotence of international mediation and the increasingly bloody nature of a war which, until a few months ago, had remained a low-intensity conflict.
The second observation is that France has suffered a major setback. It is considered to have given significant support to Marshal Haftar, in two phases. Until 2017, it provided military assistance to the former Qadafist army man, who then passed through the CIA. This enabled Haftar to secure a stronghold in Cyrenaica, in which he initially had no solid base.