By: Fahmi Huweidi*
We won’t be able to comprehend what is happening in Libya
unless we abandon the circulating myths and misconceptions.
Last week a number of social networking websites shared a recording of a figure of a Libyan tribe, in which he discussed how Al-Magharba tribe have the oil, Al-Obeidat tribe have the House of Representatives (HoR), and Al-Bra’asa tribe are in control of the government, leaving his tribe with the Ministry of death (Ministry of Defense). This proves that for the past five years of constant struggle, the core issue has been a tribal conflict over controlling positions of power in the country. There is no conflict between political groups or between extremists and moderates or even between Islamists and liberals. And even if they do exist their influence on current events are minimal and are only used to mask the real reasons behind the conflict.
A political analyst explained to me over the phone from Tripoli that the media played a huge role in putting ideology based conflicts on the forefront of Libyan news, unable to cover the actual root and cause of the problem, which is tribes competing for resources.
A competition masked by political slogans and expressed by competing for government positions and weapons.
Cairo witness first-hand the effects of such struggles, both Al-Bra’asa and Al-Dresa tribes fought over the position of Libyan Ambassador in Egypt; it appears that the president of the Tobruk government was under pressure from both tribes and met both of their demands. Al-Bra’asa appointed its son Tareq Steif Al-Bara’si, the embassy’s financial auditor, as the ambassador. A-Dresa chose Mohammad Saleh Al-Dresi, the consul in Alexandria for the same position. As a result, one of them commenced work from the embassy’s office in Al-Zamalek are in Cairo, the second started the same job from the Arab League offices in A-Duqqi, also in Cairo.
The conflict didn’t just stop there, the Foreign Ministry headquarters was attacked in Al-Baida, the Deputy Minister Hasan Al-Saghir was kidnapped. And Foreign Minister, Mohammad Al-Dairi, was beaten.
Another myth circulating in light of the Western/Eastern conflict is the denial of the ongoing events in the South; numerous fights have occurred between the Tuareg and Al-Tabu tribes, who seek control over smuggling routes. More importantly, the struggle in the west between Misrata and Al-Zintan is still ongoing, as well as in the East between Al-Awageer tribe and a few tribes from Barqa alongside Haftar-supporting groups.
Reports concerning the situation in the East, suggest that certain areas are demanding to be converted into self-governing municipalities, following in the footsteps of Jardas Al-Abeid, and are in the south of Al-Baida, which successfully turned into a municipality, which caused Al-bra’asa to demand the conversion of 24 areas on the outskirts of Jardas Al-Abeid into municipalities, even though their collective population is under 15000.
The Libyan political analyst suggested two real reasons behind the Easter/Western situation. The first being when Haftar wanted to defeat Al-Zwayya tribe in the southeastern region; he cooperated with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Darfur, and with a few from Al-Tabu tribes in the south, which has influences in Chad and Niger. This occurred in the East, and the West had nothing to do with it, bearing in mind, according to reports released by the UN, Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bashir spoke about Sudanese mercenaries from JEM partaking in the Libyan conflict in the years 2014 and 2015.
The second reason is that media outlets have regularly covered the campaign led by Haftar against the so-called extremists in the West, at a time where Al-Tawheed Brigade, part of Haftar’s army, is regarded as one of the extremist groups, which Haftar and the media are fighting against.
Individuals and groups that root for the Libyan National Army are rooting for nothing but a lie; Gaddafi destroyed the army and disorganized its components, only a few units survived, a quarter of them are located in the East and the rest are divided between the West and the South. Major General Youssef Al-Mangoush, the former Commander in Chief, who resigned in 2013 upon realizing the difficulty of rebuilding the army due to various interventions and pressures, confirmed the division of the military, affirmed by commander of Al-Baida military operations, Colonel Faraj Al-Bra’asi’s statement, which can be found on YouTube, where he specifically stated that Libya does not have an army, only “leftover crumbs of an army”, 20% of which are actual trained soldiers. I met with Colonel Al-Mangoush in Istanbul, his new place of residence after his resignation, he knew the full story of the Libyan Army like the back of his hand since it was first formed in Egypt in the 1940s, with the beginning of WWII and how Gaddafi destroyed it after an attempted coup in 1975 where he removed the ranking system, and how in 2009 in promoted 10 soldiers to Colonel all at once based on a decision solely made by him.
When I asked him about the National Army, which Haftar keeps referring to he concluded by stating it was not a National Army. I asked him for a detailed explanation he replied by saying that the whole operation was a political movement and has nothing to do with military procedures, the army which Haftar keeps talking about is led by civilians mostly from volunteers, mercenaries and ex-prisoners.
It is to be noted that Haftar’s army consists of two questionable brigades, one with a Salafi Background called Al-Tawheed, and the other named Awliyaa Al-Dam “Guardians of Blood”, therefore it’s quite difficult to refer to it as an army, it is a collective of militias who are cooperating with Haftar or have been paid for by foreign accomplices, hoping to accomplish personal goals which have no relevance to the situation in Libya.
When I mentioned that the media talked about how the army was influential in defeated the Islamic State (IS) in Derna and caused them to retreat from the city, he denied it all, stressing that it was nothing but lies. The reason the IS was removed from Derna was due to local armed forces represented in the Local Revolutionary Council. Afterward, the rest of the IS troops fled to Sirte in the west on 80 vehicles and crossed over 120km in an open land where Haftar did not order any air strikes, however, he did attack the Revolutionary Council, who were the main force behind the IS’ defeat. I asked: how do you explain Haftar’s actions? He said Haftar is a power hungry character; he wants to make himself the new “Gaddafi,” above the law and everyone. He is resorting to various tactics and using all torture and violence methods to silence all those who oppose him. Unfortunately, he is supported regionally by countries that wish to destabilize the revolution in the name of the fight against terrorism.
On Tuesday the 14th of June, Al-Awageer held a meeting where they discussed three individuals, Faraj Egeim, the Anti-Terrorism Forces Commander, Salah Bulgheib, the head of Military Intelligence, and Mahdi Al-Barghathi, the Minister of Defense in the Government of National Accord (GNA). The meeting was recorded, and the pressing issues of Benghazi were examined. Haftar, with the help of his assistant Abedrazzaq Al-Nadhouri, was accused of developing militias whose aim was to execute any opposing groups, 16 persons who were involved in these executions have been arrested in Bel-Oun in Benghazi.
In the meeting, Al-Awageer also confirmed that they have 137 cases of assassinations caused by these militias. They also discussed a prison operated by Al-Nadhori in which 6 Bengali nationals torture and execute prisoners, in addition to Haftar’s men dealing in weapons and ammunition which is smuggled to them through open borders and Tobruk’s port. Moreover, over 58 million Libyan Dinars have disappeared from AL-Wahda Bank as well as the incidents that were mentioned by Al-Awageer, such as Libyan activists demanding political favors, which the House of Representatives (HoR) grants through Haftar’s influence in the HoR. Some of these demands are the cancellation of the Ministry of Defense, appointing Haftar Commander in Chief. His appointment can be only through the HoR, who is assigned the task appointing ambassadors, ministers, and various government officials, making the highest power in Libya.
If this information is all right, then it could mean two things, the first is the absurdity of the political scene in Libya, and the second being intervention by Arab states is only causing more damage, irresponsibility, and negligence to the country.
*Egyptian Writer and Journalist
Translated By LIBYAPROSPECT: Source