Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The security situation in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, continues to deteriorate in the wake of an attack on the Ministry of Justice yesterday. Militiamen in pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns continue to surround the foreign and justice ministry buildings, along with parliament, threatening a “second revolution.”
Government sources, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that armed militias that had fought against the Gaddafi regime are seeking to pressure the interim Libyan government and parliament to sign a so-called “political isolation law” banning Gaddafi-era officials from participating in politics.
Libya’s parliament remains deadlocked over the details of the proposed legislation, and there are concerns that this could see some Libyan MPs and ministers forced out of politics.
In separate incidents, reportedly involving separate armed groups, Libya’s Interior Ministry was ransacked by gunmen demanding salaries on Sunday. In addition to this, a scuffle took place at the state TV station headquarters between gunmen and employees, reportedly forcing the channel off air for a short period of time.
There is a complex network of armed groups and militias in the capital whose presence could lead to a conflagration.
The armed groups currently present in Tripoli include former rebels from different parts of the country, unemployed vigilantes who only emerged in the wake of the Libyan revolution, ex-convicts released during the war, a temporary force that had initially been formed by the Interior Ministry itself known as the Supreme Security Committee (SSC), and hard-line Salafist Islamists.
Libyan Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Bashir Salim Al-Kitbi played down the chances that the militias’ siege of a number of government ministries could lead to the outbreak of a civil war.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Tripoli, the Brotherhood leader also comprehensively rejected foreign intervention in the country, saying that the people of Libya would never accept this. As for the Justice and Construction Party—the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood—withdrawing from Ali Zeidan’s government or boycotting parliament, Al-Kitbi stressed that these questions should be addressed to the party’s political leadership.
He said, “We blame the government, particularly the Interior Ministry, for being complacent in dealing with security issues, whether we are talking about the storming of the parliament or the different ministries.”
He put the current unrest being witnessed in the Libyan capital to the delay in restructuring the Interior Ministry.
The Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leader also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Colonel Gaddafi had released a number of criminals from prison in the final days of his regime, adding that many of these figures had then gone on to form armed militias.
One eye-witness revealed that armed fighters, travelling in more than twenty trucks, had surrounded the justice ministry, blocking the main street in front of the building. The source added that some of the trucks were mounted with anti-aircraft guns.