Tensions have mounted between the Defense and Interior Ministries in the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) in wake of clashes between the “Al-Daman” and “Lions of Tajoura” militias in Tripoli last week.
The Defense Ministry has threatened to resort to force against the two GNA-affiliated groups if they fail to heed its order to disarm.
In a statement on Saturday, it said the clashes undermine the authority of the state and threaten the lives of civilians.
“Fighting against rebellion does not grant anyone immunity and no one is above the law and constitution,” it added.
Friday’s clashes in an eastern suburb of the capital Tripoli had erupted over a dispute over payments owed to them by the GNA. Several fighters were killed and others wounded.
All armed forces answer to the commander of the Libyan army, continued the Defense Ministry in reference to GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj.
It vowed to strike with an iron first anyone who violates the values of the civil state or threatens the safety of the people. “We will continue to forge ahead and apply the law in respect of the sacrifices of our people and their pursuit of the establishment of a democratic civilian state,” it stressed.
In response and in what was interpreted as a reflection of where its true loyalties lie, the Al-Daman militia announced that its commander, Ali Adridder, was turning himself over to the Interior Ministry.
Defense Minister Salah al-Namroush had demanded that the commanders of the militias turn themselves in to the military prosecutor.
Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha and Sarraj have so far not commented on the unrest, which is seen as a sign of the tensions between them. Sarraj’s recent appointment of Namroush to his post was seen as a move against Bashagha, who was eying the position of defense minister.
Namroush and Bashagha both boast the backing of Turkey and are seen as GNA stalwarts, but the recent armed clashes in Tripoli have exposed the underlying tensions between them.
Al-Daman and the Lions of Tajoura militias both control the region of Tajoura, which lies some 30 kilometers east of Tripoli.