Armed formations in Libya… money, weapons and increasing “authoritarian influence”.

Armed formations in Libya… money, weapons and increasing “authoritarian influence”.

It demands to be dismantled after the attempted assassination of the mayor of a municipality in the west of the country

Thursday – 5 Jumada II 1444 AH – 29 December 2022

Two members of the “Agency for the Deterrence of Terrorism and Organized Crime” (Facebook page of the agency)

Cairo: Gamal Gohar

The “failed” assassination attempt on Omar Saleh Al-Saghir, the mayor of Zliten (western Libya) on Wednesday evening, raised the issue of the spread of armed formations in the country, amid fears of conflict with local citizens.
Al-Saghir told the facts of the assassination attempt on him, in which two masked people shot at his car but he escaped, describing the operation as a “terrorist crime” that needed to be “stopped quickly” to save lives. from the Libyans.
And the armed formations, deployed in many Libyan cities, have gone from carrying weapons, protecting state buildings and regulating traffic on the streets, to bodies that are strongly intertwined in political processes and receive salaries and commissions that are deducted from the general government budget.
And after the announcement that the Zliten brigadier survived the assassination attempt, the Council of sheikhs and dignitaries of the city’s tribes asked the official authorities, in today’s (Thursday) announcement, “to immediately withdraw all armed formations within the municipal borders, in order to preserve stability and avoid a possible collision with citizens.”
A Libyan political analyst, Hossam Al-Qamati, said: “The armed formations are the core of our problem. From the first moment of the crisis, these groups were fed and supported by legal cover through their legitimacy and integration within the official security services, which caused the prolongation of the crisis.
Al-Qumati expressed his belief in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat today (Thursday) that “there is no solution to the Libyan crisis without ending these groups, dismantling them or confronting them directly, while drying up the sources of their financial support.”
On how these groups formed over the past decade, Al-Qumati said: “Unfortunately, over the past ten years, our youth have been turned into (mercenaries) and criminals in a way that has exhausted the state and thwarted any real reform project.”
And he believes that “her influence within the security services must be really seriously opposed and the official security apparatus, either through the Ministry of Interior or the army, must be supported to counter this intrusion.”
Successive Libyan governments have repeatedly promised to seek to integrate the armed forces into the army and police institutions, since the idea was adopted by Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the previous “reconciliation” government in 2017, without achieving new results.
The interim “unity” government, led by Abdul Hamid al-Dabaib, had previously launched a “national project” to rehabilitate young people who had joined armed formations and wanted to join state institutions, without announcing a clear plan to take up arms.
The Council of Sheiks and Nobles in Zliten attributed what happened to the mayor to “the lack of fixed and mobile security patrols in the municipality, despite its wide area and position on the border with Tunisia, and the passage of smugglers into its western district.” He pointed out that “armed attackers come at night and stand on the international road to Tunisia without being held accountable”, noting that “these armed attackers have previously attacked pedestrians in and out of Tunisia several times and took their fees at gunpoint”. “
The Council spoke of these “aggravated crimes; And we informed the competent authorities about this situation that violates security and offends the residents of this municipality,” pointing to the earlier incident of kidnapping to which the mayor of the municipality was exposed from his home without taking into account that this is a person who represents all the residents of the municipality in all its segments, as well as official authorities in the country, despite this incident.
The council directed its speech to the official authorities about the need to quickly dispatch armed formations from the municipality, in order to preserve security, before problems arise.
The role of armed formations in Libya has evolved over the past years, and seems to be increasing, due to the weapons these formations possess and the financial support they receive, in addition to their growing authoritarian influence, with the two conflicting governments turning to them to support them. in their fight against each other.
The former adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations for Libya, Stephanie Williams, previously spoke about the status of these formations. He said: “The crisis is that all the armed groups take their salaries from the central government, which is a problem when devolving power to the local level.”
The “National Association of Municipal Councils” expressed concern and regret over the attacks, which it described as “obvious”, which hit a number of mayors, members and headquarters of municipal councils, the last of which was a “sinful” attack that, in addition to attacks on municipal headquarters council, the target was also the mayor of Zliten municipality, Sorman municipal council.
The League said in a statement yesterday (Wednesday) that these attacks would damage the country’s prestige and social peace, noting that it renews its full and absolute solidarity with all municipal councils, in various parts of Libya, facing acts of incitement and targeting, with “what they are exposed mayors and members of municipal councils.” Threats, intimidation and sometimes assassination attempts.
The association believes that repeated attacks on mayors, members and seats of municipal councils “pose a danger to the work of municipal councils; This can threaten the future of the local government system and achievements in the decentralization process.
The League appealed to the Prime Minister of the “Unity” Government and the Ministry of Local Self-Government and Internal Affairs to “secure the seats of the municipal councils and their branches, and to ensure legal immunity and security protection for the deans and council members.” municipal councils so that they can carry out their work in a suitable and appropriate environment.”
The National Association of Municipal Councils concluded that it is necessary for the Ministry of the Interior to fulfill its tasks by speedily taking measures to prosecute the perpetrators, arrest them and bring them to justice for the purpose of building a legal and institutional state.


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