Khalifa Haftar has a checkered history in Libya, where he went from Gadhafi loyalist to US-backed enemy of the regime. Now the general holds the keys to the country's future as head of the Libyan National Army.
The United States military evacuated its small contingent of troops from the Libyan capital on Sunday as rival militias raced to stop the forces of an aspiring strongman, Gen. Khalifa Hifter, from taking control of the city.
Forces under the command of General Hifter made a surprise advance on the outskirts of the capital, Tripoli, on Thursday, setting up a battle with a coalition of armed factions from the region around the city — the grand prize in a chaotic eight-year fight for control after the ouster of the dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi during the Arab Spring revolts.
Tripoli is the northern African country’s financial hub, receiving the income from sales of Libyan oil, housing the central bank and paying the salaries of soldiers and other public employees across the country.