Is Misrata Beginning to Expand its Influence Beyond the Political Sphere?
As the situation in western Libya stabilizes, Misratan elements seem to be taking full advantage of the new found stability to further consolidate their power in the economic sphere. Turkish Airlines has resumed chartered cargo flights to Misrata, two months after suspending all operations to Libya following the commencement of Operation Dawn. In addition, the schedule of commercial flights (all on Libyan carriers) from locations such as Casablanca, Tunis, Istanbul and Amman are now beginning to stabilize and there are also limited flights from Malta. Moreover, a weekly flight from London to Mitiga airport in Tripoli via Turkey has been initiated.
Possessing a reputation throughout the country for being a business savvy community, Misratans have been looking to build up capacity in their already efficient port to ensure that they remain an important player in Libyan commerce. In addition to the port and air travel developments, Misrata’s commitment to commerce can be seen in Libyan businessmen Bashar Ahmed’s completion of the Safari 2 Hotel. Considering the fragile security situation in Libya, the completion of such an ambitious project illustrates the entrepreneurial spirit of Misrata. Pictures of the project have been attached.
Having already consolidated power in Tripoli, it will be interesting to see how Misratan elements intend to advance their agenda in becoming the dominant political and economic force in the country. As a kind gesture, Misrata’s political elites have decided to conduct a prisoner swap with Zintan and release some of their Tawerghan prisoners in the spirit of the Eid Al-Adha celebrations. This shows that Misrata’s political elites recognize the need to negotiate and bargain with other stakeholders in the Libyan political sphere. Similarly, although Operation Dawn has on the whole condemned the internationally sponsored reconciliation talks in Ghadames, some Misratan political and business elements are angling for them to be supported. This means that many powerful actors have a reason to prevent a relapse into violence in Western Libya.