In Libya, more than 32 people were killed and 150 wounded in clashes in the capital last week between militia allied to the rival prime ministers Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and Fathi Bashagha.
Dbeibah’s Government of National Unity, which controls the western part of the country, has been based in Tripoli since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, while Bashagha runs the eastern part of the country. Bashaghawas recognised in February as prime minister by the Tobruk-based parliament, the House of Representatives. Dbeibah was appointed by a UN-sponsored body in February 2021 as a stopgap prime minister, has said he would not leave until the vote is held, effectively entrenching himself in power. Others involved are Bashagha-allied brigade commanded by a wealthy gangster called Haitham al-Tajouri and military strongman Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the self-styled Libyan National Army based in the east.
Karim Mezran, from the Atlantic Council, described Libya’s militia as “criminal organisations totally dedicated to power and money, and the grabbing of resources at any price. It is a mistake to think of these as political ideological organisations, but instead mafia organisations that have a vested interest in preventing the development of a functioning state.”
According to a senior US diplomat, Libyans have lost faith that the political class and its allied militias and mercenaries are willing to end their robbery of the nation’s wealth.
Jeffrey DeLaurentis, a senior adviser to the US mission at the United Nations, gave a bleak assessment of Libya’s prospects at a meeting of the UN security council.
Libyans, he said, “are losing hope that their country can be free of corruption and foreign influence, that the armed forces can be unified, and that foreign fighters, forces and mercenaries will be withdrawn. They are deprived of basic public services while the powerful cut deals to divvy up hydrocarbon revenues in accordance with their own interests, particularly to militias controlled by various factions, robbing the Libyan people of their national wealth.”
The UN debate presented few fresh ideas. UN-sponsored national elections look further away than ever. Many politicians are against holding elections, since defeat risks depriving them of access to power, patronage and resources.
The security council also heard that the UN panel of experts had named Turkey as one of the countries blatantly violating a UN arms embargo.