Calls for Dialogue Fall on Deaf Ears as Militias Get Entrenched in Battle
As no major development occurred in Libya throughout the weekend, warring sides seem to prepare themselves for a long-lasting and consuming confrontation. Fears that opposing factions will not agree to a ceasefire, let alone come to a peaceful settling of their disputes, are well reflected by the evacuation of the US Embassy in Tripoli, occurred on Saturday morning amid exceptional security measures.
In an article for the Financial Times, Borzou Daraghi focuses on the increasing risk of a Beirut-like scenario for Tripoli. As rival forces eschew areas of influence in different neighborhoods, the airport highway is increasingly playing the role of a novel Green Line, separating forces representing more and more nation-wide opposing blocks and not just the cities of Zintan and Misrata. The article does also a good job of presenting various voices on the ground, reminding us of the individual-level dimension of the crisis and, even more importantly, highlighting how the lackluster developments occurred in Libya during the last three years are marring the strength of the existing social fabric.
At the international level, Special Envoys for Libya from a number of countries and international organisations met on Thursday in Brussels to discuss the ongoing crisis. In their concluding statement, they called yet-again on all parties involved in the crisis for dialogue, while also invoking a more decisive role to be played by the UN in brokering a ceasefire. However, the concomitance of the latest Gaza crisis and of the diplomatic efforts surrounding it surely do not help the international community, and other major regional players like Egypt, to adequately focus on Libyan events. Calls for peaceful negotiations were renewed by the Libyan Government as well through a statement underlying the symbolic importance that the imminent ‘Eid al-Fitr could play in favoring reconciliation.
Finally, the ‘Shura Council of the Youth of Islam’ in Derna issued a statement concerning the arrest, judgment and execution of an Egyptian and Libyan man suspected of murder. The two were sentenced to death by the Shari’a Council of the organization and then handed over to blood relatives of the murder’s victim for carrying out the sentence. Clearly, this event marks an unequivocal attempt by this recently formed Jihadist group to follow the blueprint of other Somali and Iraqi organisations and establish itself not just as a provider of security and charity work, but as an overall alternative for the failing state apparatuses. Putting this and the above developments in perspective, underlines how strongly Libya needs to quickly put an end to the ongoing violent stalemate and prevent the mushrooming of peripheral pockets of institutionalised dissent.