AFRICANGLOBE – Militias grow in power as the General national congress gets a new mandate.
The militias that brought down the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 show no signs of weakening, and diplomats are warning that the situation in the country continues to deteriorate.
Nearly three years after the revolution that ousted Gaddafi, the new Libya is still struggling to find peace and stability.
The leaders of the General National Congress (GNC) are faced with a deadlock between different ideologies, and the government has struggled even to maintain control over Tripoli, let alone the restive south and eastern regions, as militias grow in number and resources.
In January, the Islamist Justice and Construction Party (JCP), the second-largest party in the GNC, sought to censure Prime Minister Ali Zeidan of the National Forces Alliance (NFA).
The Muslim Brotherhood’s JCP quit the government after failing in its censure motion.
The JCP blames Ali Zeidan for the lack of security.
On 7 February, protesters went to the main squares in Libya’s major cities to demand that the GNC leave office, as it had come to the end of its mandate that day.
Tensions were high as, just days before the planned demonstrations, a TV station was attacked in Benghazi, an activist survived an assassination attempt, security officials were killed and a leader of the NFA was subject to a kidnapping attempt.
On 3 February, the GNC agreed a new roadmap that includes an extension of its mandate as it has not accomplished the main objective of forming a constitutional committee to draft Libya’s fundamental law.
“They have failed so far to demonstrate any will to solve the issue,” said Feras Alhon, a political activist from Tripoli.
Salah Alsharief, a 35-year-old doctor protesting in Benghazi, described the GNC’s performance as “appalling”.
The state is weak and there are large numbers of weapons, especially in the west of the country.
This is a factor in the current political and security struggles, as militias use force and kidnapping as tools to influence government.
The government missed its 31 December deadline to integrate militias into the state security services.
In addition, the south seems stuck in a cycle of revenge killings that include the use of improvised explosive devices, as assassinations have become a part of the daily routine.
There is instability in the east as well.
Secondary school student Ali Alshaheibi says: “We hear bombs and bangs twice or three times a day. It has become a normal thing to us in Benghazi.”
Since the revolution, state security institutions have floundered, and this situation has deteriorated even further since the militias entered the political scene, backed by political parties and tribal figures.
In the east, the former commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, Ibrahim Al Jedran, has closed several oil export terminals since July 2013.
The government only issued empty threats every now and then through press conferences, but national oil production has dropped from around 1.6m barrels per day (bpd) before the crisis to 600,000 bpd in February.
Al Jedran’s forces say that the region wants 15% of national crude oil revenue in order to raise finance to fight Islamist militias in the region.
They have formed their own oil company and plan to commence sales.
Lower oil revenue is already weakening the GNC and will reduce its ability to coax militias into a negotiated settlement.
By: Rami Musa