In Libia, negli ultimi giorni, sta crescendo un movimento di protesta, che si diffonde ad un maggior numero di città in questo paese, devastato dalla guerra civile.
Nine years since the overthrow of former
Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, which Western powers, including the
US, were actively involved in, a growing number of demonstrators have
been calling on the Government of National Accord (GNA), currently led
by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, to step down, while he is being
presented to the international community as the representative of the
Libyan people. Protesters are demanding real improvements to living
conditions in the country, and an end to corruption and unlawful actions
taken by numerous militias and thousands of foreign mercenaries
operating in and around the capital and other regions of Libya. They are
also voicing their discontent about growing prices, lack of water,
power outages, unemployment and lack of necessary support in the midst
of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The August 16, mass protests against the
GNA in the capital of the country, Tripoli, have already resulted in
violent clashes. “Unidentified armed men wearing military-style
camouflage clothes opened fire on some demonstrators” in Martyrs Square
and other nearby areas of the capital. As a result, several protesters
were wounded. Amnesty International reported that unidentified gunmen
abducted “at least six peaceful protesters”. According to the Sky News Arabia
TV channel and the Libya Review newspaper, a number of demonstrators
are currently in custody of Al-Radaa and Al-Nawasi militias, the latter
is “nominally operating under the Ministry of Interior of the
Libyan media outlets have reported that
activists held “Fayez Al-Sarraj and Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha” (a
number of militias are loyal to him) responsible for the safety of the
demonstrators and, therefore, blamed them for failing to protect
protesters against violence and abduction. According to the Arab Weekly,
at the behest of Fayez al-Sarraj, the Turkish Intelligence Division
stationed in Tripoli instructed leaders of armed groups to infiltrate
the movement and “change the course of its political and social
Activists, who are seeking
the Prime Minister’s resignation, “urged the United Nations Support
Mission to Libya (UNSMIL), to carry out an immediate investigation into
the violations committed against protesters”.
In response, on August 17, Fayez
al-Sarraj blamed a group of infiltrators for the chaos that ensued
during the protests. In addition, Fathi Bashagha was temporarily
suspended from his post so that an investigation into his role in the
violence could be conducted. The Prime Minister also announced “his
intention to carry out an urgent cabinet reshuffle,” and “said that the
selection of the new ministers would be based on competence,
capabilities and clean hands”. He “renewed his call for general
elections” to be held next March. After all, the absence of central
government has probably exacerbated the problems with electricity, food
and water supplies.
According to local media sources, Fayez
al-Sarraj together with his armed entourage had to flee his residence in
the Libyan capital, seeking refuge at the Mitiga airbase, currently
occupied by the Turkish military. In turn, GNA’s Interior Minister Fathi
Bashagha fled to Turkey because of the ongoing mass protests, clearly
trying to distance himself from the ongoing protests and the violent
suppression of those by GNA forces.
In response, the representative of the
east of the country – the speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila
Saleh criticized authorities in Tripoli for using violence against the
The current unrest in Libya has had a
negative impact on the mood of the Libyan diaspora. A number of Libyans
living abroad have expressed their support for a military resolution to
the conflict in their homeland. On August 27, various media outlets
reported that an unidentified group of about 30 supporters of the GNA
“attempted to break into the Libyan Embassy in Minsk
and capture it”. Those attackers broke through the front door, gutted
the building and demanded Libyan diplomats to leave. Among the attackers
witnesses saw GNA’s current Chargé d’Affaires along with his
predecessor and the bookkeeper of GNA’s diplomatic mission to Belarus.
Reportedly, the embassy staff handled the situation on their own,
but Muhammad Istaita, that occupies the position of Charge d’Affaires of
the Libyan National Army was beaten up.
In such a climate, similar incidents may occur in Libyan diplomatic missions in other countries.
The growing unrest in Libya could
invariably lead to a redistribution of power in the nation, since
protests have also spread from Libya’s western parts to its southern and
eastern towns in LNA-ruled territories, the situation could spiral out
of control in both regions of the country and interfere with plans of
international mediators striving to reconcile the warring sides.
As evidenced by the recent events in
Libya, the Government of National Accord (GNA) and its head Fayez
al-Sarraj, as well as external forces supporting them, are losing the
respect of the people and their legitimacy with each passing day.
Nowadays, these developments are playing an increasingly important role
because of how critical they are not only for Turkey but also for most
of the global community, including the UN, which chose to recognize the
GNA “as the sole legitimate executive authority in Libya” and to support
it in any upcoming negotiations. According to the UNSMIL statement on
the latest developments in Libya issued on August 24, “given the
continuing immiseration of the Libyan people and the ever-present threat
of renewed conflict, it is past time for Libyan leaders to put aside
their differences and engage in a fully inclusive political dialogue as
outlined by GNA President Sarraj and House of Representatives Speaker
Saleh in their declarations” the previous week.
Vladimir Platov, an expert on Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.