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Fighters loyal to the Tripoli government, near Sirte. Photo: Mucahit Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty

With renegade Gen. Khalifa Haftar's fighters retreating from Libya’s capital and militias supporting the UN-backed government on the offensive, the foreign countries powering Libya’s civil war are scrambling to adjust to a new reality.

The big picture: Russia, the UAE, Egypt and to a lesser extent France embraced the idea of a secular strongman taking control in Libya after years of chaos. But Haftar's offensive turned into a yearlong stalemate, and now a string of embarrassing defeats.

  • Turkey, the Tripoli government’s most powerful backer, stands to benefit from the shifting tide — possibly through the military use of Libyan ports and drilling rights in contested areas.
  • Russia, which sent aircraft and mercenaries in support of Haftar but has now reportedly pulled them off the front lines, is set to hold talks soon with Turkey on Libya as well as Syria.
  • Haftar, meanwhile, appeared alongside Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi last week to call for a ceasefire.
  • The Tripoli government is pushing on. Mohammed Abdallah, a U.S.-based adviser to the government, tells Axios that Haftar must be forced “out of Sirte and possibly oil ports before his reps will acknowledge reality.”
  • The war has been brutal. As Haftar’s forces retreated, at least eight mass graves were discovered.

What to watch: While Haftar’s position has been severely weakened, he still holds the sparsely populated but oil-rich East — a claim backed by Russian muscle. That’s led to speculation the country could be formally partitioned.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Fall and winter COVID surge "unlikely" if people get vaccinated.
  2. Politics: School boards are the next political battleground.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA vaccine approval — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations.
  5. World: Asia faces massive new COVID surgeIndia records its deadliest day of the pandemic.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Kevin McCarthy officially endorses Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) officially endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to become the GOP's next House Republican conference chair during a Fox News appearance Sunday.

Why it matters: The GOP has been feuding internally over the fate of the current chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), because of her criticisms of former President Donald Trump, and her vote to impeach him for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Fauci: Vaccines could turn COVID-19 "surges" into "blips"

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday that if more Americans get vaccinated in accordance with the Biden administration's goals, COVID-19 surges may be replaced by "blips."

State of play: Last week President Joe Biden announced his goal to get 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July 4, with at least 70% of Americans having at least one shot.

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