Hifter's rule brings security to eastern Libya, at a cost

Libya's eastern city of Benghazi finally feels safe again, after years of assassinations, bombings and militia firefights — but security has come at a heavy cost.

Uniformed police are out at major intersections and cafes and restaurants stay open late into the night, but the city center lies in ruins, with thousands displaced and forces loyal to commander Khalifa Hifter, who now controls eastern Libya, have cracked down on dissent.

Benghazi offers a glimpse of what may befall the capital, Tripoli, where Hifter's forces launched an offensive last month against rival militias loosely allied with a weak, U.N.-recognized government.

Its fate could also harden the resolve of Hifter's opponents — who view him as an aspiring dictator — and further imperil U.N. efforts to peacefully reunite the country.