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Libya: Gov’t imposes measures to extend authority | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Tripoli, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Libyan reconciliation committee resumed its efforts to end internal fighting among a number of Libyan tribes and areas. Sources in the General National Congress [GNC] (parliament) said on Tuesday that Libyan government and GNC figures agreed to take firm measures, which have actually been enforced, in an attempt to extend the state’s authority throughout the country. A number of Libyan army field military commanders are angry because of their failure to quell the rebellion in Barak al-Shati areas, 600 kilometers to the south, as well as the continued rejection by certain cities, notably Bani Walid, to recognize the revolution and the new government.

In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Hammudah Bu-Atiyah, member of the reconciliation committee, said that, “Failure to activate the role of the army and the judiciary led to an increase in disputes among tribes.”

Bu-Atiyah also stressed that investigations are continuing into the assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi, which left the US Ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three colleagues dead. He added that the (armed) jihadist in Benghazi have harmed themselves by their actions against citizens.

Sheikh Jumayi, head of the Al-Jumayat tribe in Libya, said disputes among tribes “increased following the death of the tyrant (Gaddafi) because of failure to activate the role of the army and the judiciary.” He said that Abdullah al-Sanusi, Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, who is currently being interrogated in Libya, gave information as well as the names of some of his aides whom the new Libyan authorities knew nothing about. This information led to clashes in Barak Al-Shati near Sabha in south Libya, in which approximately 40 people were killed and dozens others were wounded.

A number of field military commanders from the “the support Unit” said that “GNC Speaker Muhammad Al-Muqaryaf explained the ramifications of the events in south Libya. They stressed that leaving certain cities under the control of Gaddafi’s henchmen is something that “the authorities should not tolerate.” The support unit’s delegation also told Al-Muqaryaf that entire areas and tribes are still out of control of the state and continue to refuse to pay homage to the 17 February revolution. These include the Warfalah tribe, which mainly lives in Bani Walid, south of Surte, and Barak al-Shati. The delegation called for making a firm decision on this issue to “complete liberation of all Libyan areas without exception.”

Many armed regiments continue to disband and have surrendered their command centres to state authorities in response to a request by Speaker Al-Muqaryaf and in compliance with the firm measures that the official security forces began to take. Moreover, the Libyan authorities decided that the reconciliation committee should continue its efforts to settle tribal disputes. The committee members visited a number of volatile areas and met with the parties to complicated disputes in Jabal Nafusah area, Bani Walid, Al-Zintan, Al-Mashashiyah, and other areas.

Regarding the situation in Benghazi, sheikh Jumayi told Asharq Al-Awsat, “The latest incidents in the city were prompted by the people of the city to get rid of the armed regiments and activate the role of the army and police.” He pointed out that the problems that “require time to solve take place mostly in Tripoli and nearby areas, but there are also pending issues in the western and southern parts of the country.” Sheikh Jumayi, who also headed the reconciliation committee in the Benghazi Council of Elders, said that the council sensed early on the danger arising from the presence of armed regiments in the city and in several other areas in Libya after their role was over with the fall of Gaddafi’s regime and the success of the revolution in bringing it down. He said the Council of Elders discussed this issue with the government and the GNC before the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, and before the people of Benghazi took to the streets calling for dismantling these armed regiments. Sheikh Jumayi said that he does not know the party that carried out the attack on the US Consulate or whether the attack was pre-planned or not. He noted that the US ambassador was “a friend who extended his hands for help.”

Asked if the Al-Qaeda Organization or other Islamist movements were behind the attack on the US Consulate, Sheikh Jumayi ruled out this possibility, but said this issue is up to the investigators to decide. He said that the Libyan people do not differentiate much between the Islamist currents. He pointed out that the so-called jihadists and Salafi “are finished because of their acts that are rejected by the people of Benghazi,” although some of them are still in some armed regiments. He said: “We may allow an Islamic political party as well as an Islamic bloc, but we cannot allow an army that works for a current or a political party.”