After years of threats to move on Tripoli, General Khalifa Haftar finally commanded his forces to take the Libyan capital. By the time he gave that order on 4 April, his Libyan National Army (LNA) was already claiming control over the town of Gharyan 95 km south of the capital.

“The clock has struck and it’s high time… we are coming Tripoli,” Mr Haftar said in a voice recording released by the LNA on 4 April. “Today we will shake the ground under the feet of...