Persisting tensions among LNA and anti-LNA militias
DIVISIONS EMERGING AMONG LNA AND ANTI-LNA MILITIAS
On 23 May, the Libyan National Army (LNA)-aligned 7th Brigade (Kani militia) killed General Massoud al-Dawi and 2 of his associates in the Famalgha area south of Tripoli after they argued over the access and distribution of weapons and ammunition. Dawi, who belonged to the Warshefana tribe and fought under Qadhafi in 2011, was leading a militia from the Warshefana region under the LNA. The Warshefana Council of Elders released a statement claiming the incident was an assassination and holding the Tarhouna Social Council responsible. They called for the LNA to investigate the incident. Despite its claim to be Libya’s “national army”, the self-declared LNA is a collection of military/militia units and tribal/regional-based armed groups. In the lead up to its assault on Tripoli, and the weeks that followed, the LNA has progressively integrated multiple armed groups from the north-western region, including some from Surman, Sabratha, Ghariyan, Warshefana, and Tarhouna. All these militias and local communities have long running grievances connected to power sharing, tribal disputes, criminal activity and other factors. Their integration into the LNA did not end internal issues amongst themselves – this is likely to cause friction and fracture aspects of the LNA coalition.
Likewise, in regards to the anti-LNA coalition, clashes occurred between two Zawiyyan militias on 24 May over the procession of armed vehicles that arrived at Tripoli port from Turkey on 18 May. The Tripoli-based Special Deterrence Force (Rada) intervened to end the fighting and arrested two men allegedly responsible for Sharakas’ death. Likewise, there are increasing signs of division and tension amongst Government of National Accord (GNA) aligned forces. The majority of GNA-aligned militias are not loyal to the GNA but rather are opposed to Haftar and the LNA and want to defend their territory. This opposition has seen the formation of a loose “anti-LNA coalition.” However, this coalition seems to be increasingly under strain as the fighting drags on. The innate fragility of its military operations is coupled with the weakness of the coalition as a whole.