Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Libya: Signs of a power struggle emerge | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- It became evident yesterday that a concealed struggle was raging between The National Transitional Council of Libya [NTC] which is opposed to Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and Islamic groups over the ways of administering and managing the country’s affairs in the coming stage while Gaddafi is still on the run and while Guinea Bissau joined Burkina Faso in offering him a safe haven in its territories.

High-level sources in NTC disclosed to Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday that the head of Libya’s interim government and NTC Chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, was still angry with some crypto-Islamic political trends and pointed out that Dr. Mahmud Jibril, the chairman of the NTC’s Executive Bureau, shares his anger.

On the second day of his first visit to Tripoli since Gaddafi’s escape and the revolutionaries’ capture of his fortified stronghold at Bab-al-Aziziyah on 21 August, Abdulaziz met with the senior sheikhs and tribal leaders in addition to Abdul-Hakim Bilhaj, the prominent member of the Islamic Fighting Group which played a prominent role in liberating the capital from the deposed colonel’s grip. The NTC chairman is seeking to persuade the armed Islamists to give up the weapons they have carried for around seven months in order to overthrow Gaddafi and to contribute to the imposition of security and stability all over the Libyan state and especially in the capital Tripoli.

NTC sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that many Islamic groups have demanded from the NTC a share in the new government that Dr. Jibril is forming for administering the transitional period over the next 18 months.

In an attempt to draw attention that the political argument at present might pose a danger to the popular revolution that overthrew Gaddafi, Abdul-Jalil said Gaddafi who is still free continues to pose a danger to the current situation in the country with the money and gold in his possession. It was also noticed that Dr. Jibril criticized publicly and for the first time what he called the growing tone of the criticisms targeting the NTC after talking during his visit to the cities of Al-Zintan and Al-Rajban about what he called the fifth columnists seeking to strike the 17 February revolution.

NTC officials told Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone from Tripoli that the Islamists’ increased influence in the capital could lead to a political and military clash between these groups and the NTC at any time. An official in it who asked not to be named said: “Some are eager to find for themselves and their political trend a place in the picture. This is quite normal but its continuation might topple the revolution and threaten the NTC’s attempts to lead Libya smoothly and calmly and prepare it for the post-Gaddafi stage.”

The NTC and Executive Bureau chairmen are saying it is too early for some political groups to think about getting politically involved and establish parties since the main mission of liberating all Libyan territories from Gaddafi’s grip has not been accomplished yet. The NTC postponed its plans to announce the new government which will be headed by Jibril until the capture of Gaddafi, whose whereabouts remain unknown and who has turned into a puzzle with the passage of time despite the intensified large-scale hunts by the revolutionaries with NATO’s support.

Officials from the NTC held talks over the past two days with the Niger Government which recently received dozens of Gaddafi’s security and military aides. Asharq Al-Awsat learned that the NTC officially asked Niger to return the funds that Gaddafi’s aides are believed to have taken with them when they crossed the southern borders between the two countries in land convoys. An official involved in these negotiations said: “We informed them of our apprehensions about receiving Gaddafi and granting him a safe haven. We asked them to cooperate with us and extradite him if he did arrive there so as to bring him before the International Criminal court. We also told them that the Libyan people’s looted funds should return to them as quickly as possible.