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Haftar’s forces and southern Libya’s disputes

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LIBYAPROSPECT – Editorial

The existence of African militias in southern Libya had become known to everyone. It is announced that the African militias are controlling important areas in south Libya.

Last few days had witnessed clashes between Chadian militias and armed groups in the area of Um-Alaraneb in the south to provide new evidence of the spread of the African militias in different southern regions.

A source in the southern areas told LIBYAPROSPECT that the Chadian militias are spread out in the regions from Um-Alaraneb to the crossing borders with Chad. The source added that the people of the areas had decided to defeat and expel those militias even without any support from the eastern or western Libyan governments. He pointed out that the two governments entirely ignore the southern side of Libya, and the services and the living situations are terrible.

The Red Crescent Society in the city of Sabha announced on 6 October that it had started talks with African militias and succeeded to release more than ten kidnapped civilians.

However, the Government of National Accord (GNA) had done nothing more than issuing statements condemning the situation. On the other hand, members from the House of Representatives (HoR) had admitted that the African groups are controlling some areas in the south.

Some HoR members stated that the southern areas are out of control, adding that mercenaries are very active in smuggling drugs and illegal migrants. They also called for bringing the commander of the Dignity Operation, General Khalifa Haftar, before the HoR for accountability about the situation in the south and ask him to talk about the attitude of his forces regarding the crisis.

The crisis hadn’t come suddenly to the scene; there are historical accumulations that should be considered in understanding what is going on in the south.

After the collapse of Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, the tribal disputes and rivalries took place. The troubles between Awlad Sleman and Al-Gadadfa tribes had were raised in Sabha; even between Tawareg and Tabu tribes in Ubari, as well as other disputes between other tribes in Al-Kufra.

In 2012, the General National Congress (GNC) had ordered the battalion “Third Force” to control the areas as a neutral side. But the political problems and divisions that were started in 2014 made the Third Force the enemy of Haftar’s forces who had armed tribal forces in the areas.

In 2015, the tribal disputes based on historical reasons. Some leaders of Tabu announced their support to Haftar’s Dignity Operation. Since then, relations between the Dignity Operation’s supporters in Tabu started a relationship with the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movements who had gathered Haftar’s forces to support him in his war.

On the other side, Haftar’s opponents in the south had communicated with the Chadian opposition and rebels. Chadian militias announced, that time, their existence on the Libyan lands. Chadian sources had circulated news that there were about eleven thousand elements from the Chadian rebels spread in Libya.

The existence of the Chadian and Sudanese oppositions and rebels in the areas had worsened the situation and made the vision unclear. The worse situation had vanished the Third Force while the forces affiliated with the GNA unseen in the regions. The only troops had remained in the areas were Haftar’s forces in some sites but without intervening to limit the chaos and stop the attacks on the civilians.

Experts from the areas said that the disputes in the south were inspired by some African sides which carry out the operations of abductions and illegal trade as well as terrorism in the regions from north Chad to other African countries including Niger, Mali, and Algeria. The troubles then moved to the areas of the south-east and south-west of Libya. Therefore, the disputes are actually between African tribes but on the Libyan lands to try to control the gold mines and the ways of smuggling and kidnapping civilians.

On the other hand, observers said that the south had become an area for international rivalries between France and Italy. Haftar is not far from the scene as he knows how to play games on those tribal disputes. The internal political loyalties played the role of deepening the social issues and dismantling the social mosaic.

The observers stated that France is trying its best to support Haftar to control the southern regions. Furthermore, some eyewitnesses said that there are forces loyal to Gaddafi’s regime. The forces mainly stationed in Ghat city nearby Algeria’s borders.