Libya: Militias Aggravate the Security Situation to Force Postponement of Elections clashes on Thursday evening returned the Libyan capital to a state of war, amid reports of a plan involving militias affiliated with political Islam aimed at exacerbating the security situation before the elections scheduled for the twenty-fourth of December.

The clashes spread a state of panic among the local population, while the government was silent in the face of what observers considered the struggle between the two largest militia organizations in Tripoli; the Special Deterrence Force led by Salafi leader Abdul Raouf Kara, and the Stability Support Force led by Abdul Ghani Al-Kikli.

Medical sources said that the clashes that took place in the Bab Bin Ghashir neighborhood in central Tripoli, and in which light and medium weapons were used, resulted in seven deaths, including three civilians trapped in the area of confrontation, and a number of wounded.

The media office of the “Operation Volcano of Rage” tried to downplay the clashes, claiming that “an armed group fired intensively during the passage of a patrol belonging to the deterrence forces”,  countering what they described as malicious rumors.

According to field sources, a patrol of the deterrence militia of the Ministry of Interior collided with another armed group led by the militia Ezz Al-Arab, (affiliated with the Stability Support Militia led by Abdul Ghani Al-Kikli and established last January by  former head of the Government of National Accord, Fayez Al-Sarraj, to be under the supervision of the Presidential Council).

The militias in Tripoli are extensions of the interests and calculations of the parties behind them, especially those that are strongly involved in managing the struggle for power and wealth.

The confrontations led to the closure of the Sikka road, where the government headquarters is, while the Stability Support Militia announced the control of the new headquarters of Interior Minister Khaled Mazen, while the forces of the two conflicting parties were deployed in other locations in the center of the capital, including under the Al-Madar Street bridge, Al-Nibras Island, the end of the Sikka Road, Al-Zawiya Street, Al-Sidi Street, and Esharah. Bab Bin Ghashir.

Libyan sources attributed the clashes to competition over locations and points of concentration between the “deterrence” and “stability support” militias, stressing that the confrontations lasted from Thursday afternoon until the early hours of Friday morning, and that the matter threatens to renew clashes at any time, given the tension between militia members, as well as attempts by political parties to bring the west of the country back to chaos in order to block the way to the elections under the pretext of insecurity.

The sources said in a statement to Al-Arab that there is no ideological, political or social link that unites the Tripoli militia,like all the militias in the west of the country. The struggle for power and wealth is linked to suspect relations with regional and international powers.

They added that suspicious movements are taking place in a number of directions, which suggests the existence of a scheme to push Tripoli into new battles that may be a sufficient justification for the direct intervention of Misrata militias, which would constitute a practical coup against the political process and the provisions of the road map, including the electoral process.

The western region is witnessing a wide campaign led by politicians linked to the Brotherhood and regional forces, media professionals, analysts and activists, with the aim of pushing for the postponement of the elections, questioning the Independent High Electoral Commission, and warning of the outbreak of a new war in the country if results are recorded that do not conform to the interests of political Islam and warlords.

The militias are among the biggest supporters of the Turkish military presence in the west of the country, as it constitutes a sufficient justification for its continued presence, while the removal of the Turkish forces and their mercenaries may be a prelude to disbanding, dismantling and collecting their weapons.

Despite the announcement of a ceasefire and the advent of new authorities from the outcomes of the political dialogue forum, the armed militias in the western region still maintain their former influence, and are competing for areas of influence, whether in Tripoli or in other cities.

Last June, the city of Ajilat witnessed fierce battles between the militia of Muhammad Bahrun, known as the mouse, and a local militia led by Muhammad al-Zaytouni, (nicknamed “Shalfouh”), which led to a number of deaths and injuries, most of them civilians. Tripoli and Zawiya also witnessed many clashes without the government taking practical steps to rein in uncontrolled armed groups.

Observers believe that as much as it insistently talks about the necessity of evacuating foreign forces and mercenaries, the international community ignores the outlaw militias affiliated with the government, that enables their members to escape punishment despite their involvement in many crimes against civilians and institutions.

The twenty-third item of the outcomes of the Second Berlin Conference, which was held on the twenty-third of last June, stipulated the call for “security sector reform, through the demobilization and disarmament of armed groups and militias in Libya, through a credible and verifiable process, and the inclusion of appropriate personnel in the state’s civil, security, and military institutions based on an individual merit and professional examination.”

The General Command of the Libyan Army forces stressed the need for this authority to implement “what was agreed upon at the first and second Berlin conferences regarding the removal of all foreign forces and mercenaries before the elections date on the twenty-fourth of December, calling for a serious national vision on disbanding militias and outlaw groups, confiscating weapons and reintegration through the official institutions of the state.”

On the 15th of July, the Security Council noted the need to plan for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups and all relevant non-state armed actors, reform of the security sector and the establishment of a unified, inclusive and accountable security architecture. At that time, no decisive steps had been taken towards unifying the military institution.

Al Arab

Translation by Internationalist 360°