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The Libyan Capital is Captive to Militias

The Libyan Capital is Captive to Militias

Wednesday, 25 January, 2023 - 05:30
Dr. Jebril El-Abidi
Libyan writer and researcher

Militias are enemies of the Libyan people. We will see the day when they are gotten rid of and each and every one of their members is held accountable. Tripoli, the bride of the Mediterranean, which has always been praised by poets and adored by its visitors, set a precedent with its civilized urban development in the sixties. However, over the past decade, it has been languishing under the weight of criminality and plunder. Since the state fell in 2011 because of NATO strikes on Libyan army bases, militias of all kinds that have an array of affiliations have managed to penetrate and control the capital Tripoli.


Tripoli is neither secure nor safe. You could be murdered in cold blood by criminals stealing your car or even your phone or wallet. These are all reasons to kill you in cold blood. You could also be kidnapped and held for ransom. Neither children nor the elderly nor women are off limits. They could also be kidnapped and murdered. You could also be killed because of your identity, be it your political beliefs or your tribal and religious group.


The militias of divergent creeds and allegiance see all of these affiliations as justifications for spilling your blood, taking your money, burning your home, or even demolishing it, to say nothing about the secret prisons where militias detain their opponents and those who stand up to their tyranny. Despite all of these heinous crimes committed over the past decade, the international community has met the militias' brutality with silence. In fact, the international community protected them when the Libyan army decided to purify the capital. It hit the Libyan army with drones and missiles launched from the sea to protect the militias in control of the capital who had turned its residents into human shields.


The militias, especially the ideological ones established by foreign powers, are proxies furthering the interests of those powers in Libya and neighboring countries. From the Muslim Brotherhood and their militias, which had originally been the "Libyan branch of al-Qaeda", to the alliance of criminal gangs and fugitives of Libyan state prisons who had escaped after the anti-regime protests of February 2011, to the "revolutionary" militias- a broad and vague term that applies to anyone "rebelling" against the law.


These militias continued to proliferate until more than 300 armed militias that were based in Libya. While some claim they are under the state's control, either through the ministries of Interior, Justice, Defense, and others, that is simply untrue, and several incidents witnessed over the past years have proven that none of them are under the control of the government in Tripoli.


The map of the militias operating in Tripoli is complex, and it is difficult to disentangle them, especially those founded on regional identities whose members all hail from the same city or tribe.


The Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, Al-Halbous Brigade, Al-Mahjoub Brigade, the Al-Morsi Brigade, Sawa'iq, and Al-Qaqaa all claim to be "revolutionaries." Because of their regional composition or ideological commitments, these groups cannot form a national army unless they are dissolved and reconstituted into a diverse national force that includes all tribes and regions.


Questions have thus arisen about the capacity of the capital, Tripoli, to withstand remaining hostage to militias after these ten years, which have been the darkest decade in modern Libyan history. Tripoli is close to boiling point, and this threatens the population. It has become overcrowded, and the problem is especially pronounced during every attempt to control the capital, which has been under the control of a broad array of volatile militias with divergent loyalties, especially the opportunistic ones who are effectively mercenaries selling their services to the highest bidder.


The militias came to control the capital, Tripoli, shortly after the February 2011 "revolution" began. This "revolution" ended up leading to chaos and the proliferation of arms, but there has nonetheless been no real effort to bring order on the part of the United Nations and NATO. In fact, the latter is primarily responsible for bringing down the Libyan state and devastating the Libyan national army under the pretext of overthrowing the Gaddafi regime, and their actions brought down the state before the regime.


Militias continue to run Tripoli amid inaction and disinterest from the United Nations and the international community. They will create regional, if not global, threats in the foreseeable future, especially given the illegal immigration off the Libyan coast, which is only a few hundred miles away from Southern Europe, which can be accessed from there using small fishing boats.


Militias control everything in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. They have continued to blackmail governments and share ministries among themselves. They eventually came to make ministerial decisions and control entire ministries. They have crossed all the lines, and the government should leave Tripoli and set up a capital in exile instead of remaining captives to militia princelings, who now have a quota for every position, even ambassadors and attaches in foreign embassies.


The real and only way to regain control of Tripoli from the militias’ control is to cleanse the capital of these militias. Otherwise, Tripoli, its people, and its government will remain captives of the militias, the government will go into exile, or the capital will be temporarily changed to a city free of militias influence.


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