Militias Threaten Military Escalation to Postpone the Libyan Elections

Editorial Comment: The Dabaiba government, following orders from Turkey, failed to prepare the security environment for holding elections. Meanwhile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the Government of National Unity, Najla Al-Manqoush, is in Istanbul today, attending the Turkish-African Summit. – A.V.

Libyan political circles described the military escalation that some militias waved as the last card in the plan to cancel the elections, especially after the arrival of the Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Stephanie Williams, whose visit was accompanied by the cessation of news that circulated recently regarding an agreement between Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dabaiba and the leader of Army Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar to share power and postpone the elections.

These circles said that American diplomacy closed all outlets to politicians leading to the postponement or cancellation of the elections, so the militias  raised local and international fears of a war if the delay demands were ignored.

The commander of the so-called “Sumoud Brigade,” Salah Badi, threatened to close all state institutions in Tripoli, because they “work abroad, not inside.”

Badi appeared in a video circulated on social media pages as he spoke during a meeting with a group of his supporters, and launched a violent attack on Stephanie Williams, and the way the elections are supposed to take place. He stressed that “there will be no presidential elections as long as the men are present, and I agreed with the men to close all state institutions in Tripoli.” Badi’s statements (one of the most prominent militia leaders in Misrata)  came after a visit by Stephanie Williams to the city with important political and military weight in western Libya.

Followers of the Libyan political affairs say that Williams’ approach reflects an American insistence on holding the elections on time, and that the installation of a stable authority is what the United States wants, which requires paying attention to the next step, which may be forming an alliance with that authority to expel the Russian Wagner mercenaries from the east and south of the country.

These observers believe that Washington does not have a specific candidate for these elections, and is ready to work with any party except for Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, and that Washington and Stephanie Williams are keen to prevent his candidacy.

Badi’s threats preceded a military escalation in the southern city of Sebha, where clashes took place on Tuesday between forces loyal to the Government of National Unity and another affiliated with the army, during which two people were killed. While it is not yet clear who is behind this escalation and whether they want war, local sources indicated that Haftar demanded the 166th Brigade withdraw from the city after the commander of Major General Masoud Jedi, who belongs to the Awlad Suleiman tribe – the major tribes of the south. Arab – defected from the army.

At first, the clashes seemed to be accidental, and it is not surprising that they occurred in light of the fragile security and political stability in the country. However, the publication of alerts regarding a huge mobilization of army forces in preparation for the attack on the city raised serious fears of a war.

These developments reflect the failure of the Dabaiba government to deal with the militia challenge, especially after it held a press conference a few days ago in which it reassured the people and the world that everything is fine and that there are no problems that will hinder the elections.

Preparing for the elections is the main task for which the national unity government came into being, but its president’s involvement in political quarrels,  and then launching a premature election campaign using public money, confused its work and deviated it from its main goal.

Observers say that Dabaiba, who worked during the past months to build popularity that would allow him to run and win elections, now does not want these elections at all. They believe that the popularity that he built quickly also collapsed quickly on the impact of media campaigns launched against him by his competitors, especially after publication of news that he lied about obtaining a degree from a Canadian university, in addition to raising issues related to waste of public money and corruption.

During recent days, Dabaiba raised the salaries of some sectors, in addition to allocating forty thousand dinars (about $10,000) grants to encourage young people to marry. However, his inability to solve several living problems, such as the rise in the prices of basic commodities, in addition to the continuing problems of the electrical network, coinciding with the advent of winter, reduced the momentum of any measures he had taken.

Al Arab

Translation by Internationalist 360°