Al Sanousi Bseikiri
From the first year of the revolution, some cities, east and west of the country, saw the problem of regional and tribal conflict and intellectual and political fanaticism. I have talked about it in several lectures, as a major challenge facing state transition and building. I have pointed out that this conflict was latent and then it revealed itself, even expanded, when the security cover was removed from it.
When Saif Al Islam Al Qaddafi spoke in the first days of the revolution about the risks of persisting with the revolution, and listed these problems, he was not a strategic expert or fortune teller. He was speaking on behalf of a ruler who is knowledgeable about what is going on around him. The Qaddafi regime was aware of these phenomena and dealt with them with a stick and carrot approach. He was not interested in addressing the root causes of these problems. He may have even adopted a policy of entrenching them to serve as a safety valve and a tool to control and direct.
As soon as the Interim Council announced the liberation of the country, these phenomena floated to the surface. There was pushing and pulling in every direction, and the result, with the increase in forces of push and pull, was ripping apart the remnants of the state and the expansion of the regional, tribal and ideological conflict. The political scene thus became the culmination of the positions and attitudes and regional, tribal and ideological components. The culture of the state and the civil society became restricted, so that that the educated and the cultured elite called for a return to the pre-independence balance.
The point is that the negative and dangerous social and political phenomena are in an inverse relationship with the state and the values of citizenship, justice and rule of law. If the presence and role of the state is enhanced, these phenomena will recede, and if the state collapses and diminishes, these phenomena will expand and fill the vacuum. This filling of the vacuum will not be valid and useful, except as a temporary exception, in the sense that it will mitigate the repercussions of the state’s collapse, pushing towards rebuilding it and reinstating its prestige, rather than imposing itself as an alternative to it.
Another essential point explains the expansion of the regional and tribal conflict and even calls by the educated and cultured elite for it, which is the religious extremism and its expansion, taking advantage of the regressing power of the state and its institutions. This factor constituted a main reason for a large number of Libyans rallying around their regional and tribal affiliations, although many of them are convinced that the role of the tribe is to support legitimacy and the state in times of crisis, and does not extend beyond that.
Therefore, the regional and tribal conflict is present and interacts negatively and positively with the surrounding reality. A main reason for its expansion is the feeling of danger in view of the absence of the means to address it, without overlooking the ambitions of some who exploit tribalism and regionalism for political reasons and personal interests.
In this context perhaps we need to read and analyze the summaries of the meetings of the most prominent tribes of Barqa over the past few days, and their calls for action of a sovereign nature, which is the jurisdiction of the legitimate authority, recognized by these tribes, namely parliament, the government, and the army leadership.
The leaders of tribes supporting parliament, the government, the Karama (dignity) Operation and its godfather Khalifeh Haftar, would not have spoken had they not felt that parliament and Karama were in a weakened state and their influence was diminishing. They would not have been able to openly speak about dividing the power between Khalifeh Haftar and Faraj Al Barasi, had parliament and the government spread their influence and imposed security and stability in the eastern region, or say that Haftar eradicated “terrorism” in Behghazi as is commonly believed among the Karama supporters.
The large tribes in Barqa, “Al Harabi”, perhaps perceive today that Karama has no future one year into the fighting, which has had disastrous results for the eastern region in general and Benghazi in particular, and that the dangerous effects of the Karama Operation in Benghazi are Haftar’s responsibility. This is why they proposed that Haftar control it and the areas adjacent to it, to the east and west, while Faraj Al Barasi militarily controls the areas of Jabal Akhdar and Batnan, mainly inhabited by the Harabi, with less complicated security problems.
As for the results of the proposal, I believe it cannot be the means for bringing stability and harmony to Barqa. The division recalls a tribal history whose revival will not be positive and covers up the crisis and its true causes (the policy of covering up problems). It does not wisely and courageously address it through an honest review of a year of Karama while moving towards a comprehensive and sound approach. The first problem with the proposal is that it paves the way for eliminating the idea of building the state and enhancing its stature, and brings interests down to the level of tribes and not the state, or even the region.