Tripoli, Libya: The People Caught Between Warring Militias people of Tripoli are caught in the struggle between the militias of Al Saraj and the militias belonging to the Minister of Interior.

President Fayez al-Sarraj is the son of an ancient Tripoli family that descend from Turkish roots, according to the memoirs of his father, Mustafa al-Sarraj, one of the politicians who were active in the National Congress Party led by Bashir al-Saadawi. Today,  the capital’s militias stand by him, headed by the Tripoli Protection Force.

On the other hand, is the Minister of Interior, Fathi Bashagha, who also has Turkish roots, and today is the front of Misrata’s struggle for power and wealth, and the militias of his city strongly push for his victory, with the exception of a few betting on others, especially on Ahmed Maitiq, the vice president of the presidency.

Suffice it to say that Maitiq, although he called a few weeks ago for a  demonstration against the corruption of al-Sarraj and his clique, he stood by al-Saraj’s side last Friday in approving Bashagha’s arrest and removal from his position as Minister of Interior, referring him to investigation.

What happened during the past few days in Tripoli confirms that there is something wrong, not just inside the Libyan interior, but abroad, which exercises its guardianship over it. How else can the world, especially the western countries, insist that there is no legitimacy except for the government of militias and mercenaries, which plundered the sustenance of its people, and deprived its citizens of of their most basic rights, using takfiri and opportunist militias to maintain a rule based on corruption, that opened the country’s doors to Turkish invaders,  and hired mercenaries to fortify itself against the army and the people.

Al-Sarraj, the civil engineer who was brought to head the Presidency Council in accordance with the Skhirat Agreement (which was concluded in December 2015),  failed to create true leadership, to be worthy of the position granted him, and he did not achieve any of the tasks entrusted to him, or carry out the people’s demands.

Al-Sarraj retreated from all his commitments and did not fulfill promises made in Paris, Palermo and Abu Dhabi, and fully submitted to outside interests, dependent on warlords and militias, granting them legitimacy, weapons and impunity, opening the way to unprecedented corruption, And he gave the Brotherhood a wide scope for penetration of the state, especially the Central Bank, the National Oil Corporation, investment and communications companies, and others, and ensured the difference in the foreign currency’s value became the cave of Ali Baba for the accumulation of corrupt money.

As the army advanced to central Tripoli, al-Sarraj found himself regionally and internationally isolated, so he looked toward Turkey where, last November, he signed two memoranda of understanding that provided Erdogan with the means to occupy western Libya and deploy mercenaries to control air and sea bases. He is an appointed president so utterly rejected and stigmatized that he has no hope for a political future.

NATO’s Man in Tripoli

Fathi Bashagha was an aviation officer who defected from the government in 2011, formed an armed militia, and was the head of the coordinates collection and submission department for NATO, and was active in the Misrata Shura Council in 2012, as he was a member of the Urabi Libya Dawn coup in 2014, which was a planned process whereby Political Islam came to power after electoral failure, backed by Qatar and Turkey, and he refused to join the House of Representatives as an elected member with all of Misrata’s representatives, as that would have neutralized the Misrata militias’ struggle for influence in Tripoli.

Bashagha was more dangerous than al-Sarraj realized, as he became the number one man of Qatar and Turkey. He had strong ties with British and American intelligence, and presented himself to Washington as capable of achieving security arrangements, dismantling militias, building a strong security and military institution, while pretending to be keen on national reconciliation and ending corruption. When the street rose up a few days ago, he sided with the protesters, and said that his goal is to confirm the values ​​of the civil democratic state.

The people of Tripoli and its militias reject the domination of the Misrata militia over their city but have been unable to prevent this. The Minister of Interior himself is a militia man and has experience in this field, and he is supported by the Brotherhood, whose leaders mostly hail from Misrata, and the Turks have a special camel in that city, which they consider an extension of the Ottoman heritage, and the capital of what Erdogan described as the Turks of Libya.

Misrata sees Bashagha as a leader who can be relied upon to seize power in Tripoli, the heavily armed city that is considered the capital of money and business in Libya, since its elite took control of the government, the central bank and its wealth in 2011. They do not hide this, but consider it their untouchable right. Misrata was always ready to deal with external powers, presenting itself as a city of science, culture, industry, trade, revolution, cultural diversity, tolerance, urbanization and strength.

Bashagha succeeded in promoting this idea, and he sought help from lobbyists in several capitals, and invited the godfather of February, Bernard Henry Levy, to the country to benefit from his media influence and strong relations with Israel and active lobbies on more than one level.

Among the clear differences between Sarraj and Bashagha is that the first is a civilian, trying to fortify his political role with militias, and the second is a military man who leads a militia and aspires to rule. The first burned all his bridges internally and externally, and the second was able to form important alliances and present himself as able to achieve what al-Sarraj failed to do.

In the end, it remains that most of the Tripoli militias reject the Bashagha from Misrata, and the Misrata militias reject Sarraj who is in his office in Tripoli, while the overwhelming majority of the Libyan people reject Sarraj and Bashagha together, and dream of dissolving the militias, and protecting the homeland and its resources from thieves, corruption, and those affected by the slogans of religion, revolution, regionalism and subordination to foreigners.

Al Arab

Translation by Internationalist 360°