States and militias Libya: Blood on the Sand Mustafa Elzaidi
Where is Libya heading today? A question is raised after the military intervention of NATO was able to overthrow the revolutionary regime, led by the leader Muammar Gaddafi and the attempt to impose an interim authority in accordance with Western standards. But, as is always the case, false premises lead to false results. The West, perhaps under the influence of the false tears of Abdul Rahman Shalgam, did not pay enough attention to the details of political and social situation in Libya.
Libya emerged exhausted from the Italian colonial period in the middle of the last century where it was subjected to genocide and displacement operations and the resettling of Italians in place of the Libyans. The country suffered three great famines: in 1923, 1936 and 1947 as a result of a long stage of oppression and ethnic/tribal cleansing practiced by the Turks along a period of more than five centuries.
The victorious countries in World War II attempted to subject Libya as a colony of one of the defeated Axis countries to their control politically and economically. Thus, they set up a puppet regime that kept the interests of the victorious nations in the form of direct military bases and unlimited economic and political influence.
However, the case of the national consciousness in the Arab region brought about by the national revolution of Egypt has spread to Libya, where a progressive revolution broke out led by the Free Unionist Officers’ Movement headed by the leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The First of September Revolution (Al Fateh Revolution) worked to build a modern independent state: it evacuated the foreign bases and the Italian settlers; nationalized the major sources of wealth “oil and banks”; and executed plans to bring about economic and social development through the expansion of schooling, the development of infrastructure and the search for alternative sources for oil. It also conducted, since the mid-seventies, an experiment to involve citizens in the political process through the project of direct democracy. However, due to its domestic, regional and international policies Libya was set on a collision course with the west.
Muammar Gaddafi was classified as the number one enemy of the Western colonial project and was subjected to continuous attempts of elimination, the most important of which was the direct military aggression in 1986 to kill him.
At the outbreak of unrest in Tunisia at the end of 2010, the forces hostile to the Al Fateh Revolution availed themselves of the opportunity to form a local alliance from ex-prisoners Islamists, liberals and some tribes in Cyrenaica, Misurata and Alzentan, to face up to the Revolution. The Alliance managed to get media and financial support from the major Gulf States associated with the West to spark a civil war in February 2011 that was successful in dragging the major powers to direct military intervention.
Despite the full state of siege imposed on the country and limited resources and without regional or international support, Libya managed to withstand for a long period of time in the face of the military operations of NATO and its allies. But in the end, the firepower of NATO was capable of resolving the battle and succeeded in the assassination of the leader Gaddafi in a manner that will go down in history from different angles and through multiple images.
The slogan raised throughout the conflict was the liberation of Libya from dictatorship, democracy-building, securing human rights, establishing the State of laws, and achieving economic prosperity … After more than nine months from the assassination of Gaddafi and more than a year and a half of the occupation of Cyrenaica, one may raise the question: What are the results of those events in Libya today?
One look at the political and social reality in Libya illustrates a status of total chaos, and dispersion into small separate States. Every city and region is managed in practice independently through rival militia boards. In the city of Tripoli alone, there are more than 19 military councils
that have nothing to do with one another. The cities are disconnected: the city of Alzentan has nothing to do with Gheryan city, nor does the city of Zwara relate to the city of Aljmeil, nor has Derna City any relations with Albeidha City. Despite being adjacent cities, militia-guarded gates separate them from each other totally. The Transitional National Council and the interim government do not exist on the ground. Their essential mission is to disburse funds to these militias and to issue arbitrary laws against Gaddafi supporters.
According to 2006 statistics, the population of Libya is 5,250,000, with more than 537,000 now refugees in Tunisia, as reported by Mr. Jamal Jernaz, ambassador of Libya in Tunisia. Egypt’s official statistics, with respect to the number of displaced Libyans, point to about 850,000
citizens. Mr. Ali Al Sallabi, de facto ruler of Libya from behind the curtain, said in an interview in the Libyan state television that the number of displaced Libyans emigrating from the paradise of the alleged “revolution” is more than 1.5 million. According to him, there are 25,000 Libyan asylum seekers in Italy alone, while the Libyans in Chad, Niger and Mali are almost a quarter of a million; in Algeria, Morocco and Jordan the number is more than 150,000 at the very least.
Does the talk about democracy and human rights mean to empty Libya from its population for the simple fact that most of them are pro Gaddafi?
In an exchange with Mr. Feltman, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State in Tunisia on July 16, 2011, in an attempt to find a political solution to the Libyan crisis, I told him that the leading forces behind the military operations waged against the legitimate State in Libya is the al-Qaeda
Organization. I know that the Americans received our assertion cynically and did not pay any attention to it. The events today confirm that the backbone of the armed militia in control of Libya is the al-Qaeda groups. Mr. Abdul Hakim Alhsadi or Abdul Basit Azouz in Derna City are
not alone; they have colleagues scattered all over the country. As vital operatives of the government Al Sedik Algheiti is Undersecretary of the Ministry of Defense, Al Hadi Alkhadhrawi is Undersecretary of the Ministry of the Interior, while Mustafa Alsaqizli and Abdullah Dawadi are in charge of the Veterans Affairs. The Security Committees and Military Councils around the country are littered with other associates of theirs: Ismail Al Sallabi and Fawzi Abuktef are pivotal members of the Security Committee in Benghazi, and Abdel-Wahab Qaid, a brother of Hassan Qaid “Abu Yahya al-Libi,” is head of the Security Committee in the south, while Ali Ishtewi and his companions control the Security Committee of Syrte. In the Tripoli area, the Security Committee is headed by Abdel-Raouf Kara and Abdul Wahab Gnifid, the Security Committee of the city of Tarhuna is chaired by Abdul Aleem Saedi, while Embarek Alftmani aka “Bin Laden” is in charge of the Security Committee of Bin Walid. The Military Council of Alzentan is headed by Alijmi Alaitri and Taher Al Jdei. These Qaida operatives are not less important than Abdul Hakim Belhadj and Nabil Saadi, all of whom are al Qaeda veterans who fought in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq. No matter how the Western powers tried to turn a blind eye on these details or were deluded into the possibility of absorbing such individuals into a fake political process, the fact remains that they are quick-paced to strengthen Al-Qaeda in what they call the Islamic Maghreb, starting with the formation of an Al Qaida nucleus in Tunisia, the reviving and arming of Al Qaeda in Egypt and expansion in the sub-Saharan area.
As we have already warned the world, the Libyan society is a tribal society where the Italian colonialism and the Turkish before it left, as we have tribal feuds that the Al Fateh Revolution tried to bridge. Recent events had enough fuel to stoke them and revive the already warned world, the Libyan society is a tribal society where the historical conflict between the Gaddafi tribes and Werfalla tribes on one side and the tribes of Misurata on the other, between the tribes of Meshashia and the tribes of Alzentan, between the tribes of Nalut and the tribes of Al Siaan, and among the tribes of Zwara and the tribes of Aljmeil. However, the most serious outcome of these events was the unprecedented ethnic/tribal cleansing never witnessed in Libyan history. All the people of Tawergha were forced to abandon their homes in Tawergha for being of black skin by the adjacent city of Misurata, where the majority of the population is of Turkish origin. An ethnic war broke out between the Tobu on one side, and the Zweia tribes and Awlad Soleiman on the other side, in Kufra and Sebha, and between the Tuareg and the inhabitants of Ghadames.
The conflict between the east of the country and the west is also looming and the war drums began to beat as heavily as ever. The process of declaring Cyrenaica an independent state is in full swing, and the forces of Barqa are stationed since more than one month in the Red Valley
area which is the boundary between Cyrenaica and Tripoli.The result of NATO’s operations in Libya is visibly clear and could be characterized as total chaos; armed militias everywhere; financial, media and military momentum to Al Qaeda Organization; and a country on the brink of civil war. The government appointed by NATO is a sham, needed for media and publicity, while the alleged elections are not practically possible in light of the dysfunctional security situation, unless it is merely a play to distract public opinion.
By means of his limited private fortune, Bin Laden was successful in forming an organization that threatened world security and peace, the leaders of the west mocked Libya’s request to capture Bin Laden in the early years of the beginning of his activity. How would it be the case if Abdul Hakim Belhadj, Abdel Basset Azzouz and their groups established their base, propelled by this huge amount of money that Gaddafi wanted to save for the future Libyan generations, in this vast Libyan Desert, overlooking Europe from the south and the African forest from the north? There is no doubt that a nightmare awaits the world.
The Libyan crisis can be solved now, but time will make it the more complex… Now the majority of Libyan men and women are against al Qaeda and its militias and policies. They are ready to resist it, but they lack assistance and support. The Libyans are able to choose a democratic tool to manage their affairs if they were given the opportunity to freely determine their own destiny away from the influence of the militias.
The world intervened under the pretext of protection of civilians, but all reports published by international organizations and human rights groups and truth commissions confirm that there were no systematic killings of civilians, or acts of rape and that it is nothing more than pre-planned media lies intended to topple the revolutionary regime in Libya.
Today, those killed in Libya since the assassination of Gaddafi until now exceed 15,000. Pro - western International human rights organizations talk about imaginary numbers of detainees in secret prisons run by armed teenagers with no moral or legal controls, where all forms of torture and persecution are practiced against innocent people, and where the detainees are considered guilty until proven innocent. The judicial system is absolutely broken, and ex-criminals are in charge of security. For example, the Medina Police Station in Tripoli, one of the biggest police stations in the capital is managed by a former prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment for drug trafficking. Thus is the case in other cities.
The Libyan scene today: more than a third of the population is forced to relocate abroad … Entire cities and tribes are displaced at home … People are treated according to their tribal identities, and not because they are Libyan nationals … Libya is practically a disassembled, devastated State: no laws, no security, no safety. Is not this sufficient justification for international intervention to protect civilians and to protect the rights of individuals and the defense of freedoms?
Shalgam’s false tears, which he shed in the Security Council, deceived the world and I am sure that he regrets them if he still has some degree of humanity. It is about time that the conscience of the world—moved by the rivers of blood flowing from the Libyan men, women and children— and the pain of millions who suffer from oppression, discrimination and displacement in order to correct what political mistakes he committed, the price of which was paid by the innocent people of the major Libyan tribes such as Tawergha, Meshashia, Gadadfa, Tobo, Wershefana, Werfalla and Tarhuna. An international peaceful intervention is necessary to enable the Libyans to achieve self-determination without pressure and to choose the system of government that suits them, without external interference and to secure their future according to their requirements and desires.
Prof. Mustafa Elzaidi
Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Libya