The commander of Libya's self-proclaimed national army in the east has ordered naval bases to confront any vessel entering the country's territorial waters without military permission. A statement released by the forces of Gen. Khalifa Haftar Wednesday said the command was directed to eastern bases in Benghazi, Ras Lanuf, Tobruk, as well as the capital Tripoli, in the west, after an Italian patrol boat arrived there.
Italy sent its military forces to Libyan waters to tackle human smuggling upon request by the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli. Libya's eastern-based parliament, rivals to Tripoli and allied with Haftar, strongly opposed the move. The Commandante Prozene ship arrived as part of the military cooperation between Libya and Italy, Libyan Navy spokesman Ayoub Qassim told the country's state-run news agency, LANA.
The oil-rich North African country descended into chaos after Western intervention and parts of it have become a bastion for Daesh, giving the militants a new base even as its territory in Syria and Iraq continues to shrink under constant assault. Libya has suffered from a chronic absence of security as various actors have emerged. The powerlessness of the central government has led many people to take up arms against the government. After the ouster and subsequent killing of Moammar Gadhafi, the army has disintegrated, and the central government has gradually lost its power without having much effect on the ongoing violent clashes between armed forces loyal to Haftar.