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7 mars 2021

Libya: country of extremists at ministers` chairs and big powers battles


 

Mateusz Piskorski

 

While international attention had been recently locked mostly on the tragedy and its consequences in Lebanon, another Mediterranean country, Libya has been facing tempestuous times as well. On August 12, Turkey’s key bridgehead in the region, the Al-Watiyah airbase, was attacked. The airstrike against Turkish forces broke the lull. After large-scale battles in the first half of the year between the Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez Sarraj and the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the front line had been stabilized. Nevertheless, both parties continue to declare that the conflict is likely to be continued. The concentration of the opposing sides reinforcements in the direction of Sirte, held by the LNA, does not stop as well.

 

According to the Turkish Foreign Minister, peace will be possible only after the GNA will take control over this strategic city, as well as over the key airbase of Al-Jufra. In turn, Egyptian President Al-Sisi stated that these objects are a “red line” for him and for the LNA forces which are supported by the Egyptian government. Al-Sisi also stressed his readiness to send troops to protect strategic objects in case of a request for that from his Libyan allies.

 

The situation around Sirte has recently provided another proof that the parties engaged in the Libyan war are for now not only the GNA and the LNA, but also big powers such as Turkey, Egypt and some European countries.

 

Reasons for the European involvement into the Libyan conflict are more than obvious, apart from oil and stabilization of Frank CFA African countries linked with France – European countries are facing risks of a new migration crisis which can be caused by an escalation in Libya and surrounding countries. Already now the GNA controlled “coast guard” is not willing, able or capable to control the illegal migrations and a lot of trafickers gangs are taking advantage of this situation. Political and public activists from European countries targeted by migrant crisis are expressing protest against financial support of GNA coast guards by organizing rallies and marches. Moreover, these protests are not just against uncontrolled migration – since refugee camps became sites for the slave trade and asylums for different types of trafickers, criminals and extremists.

 

Turkey, in spite of its official agreement with Brussels to keep migrants out of European Union countries in order to stabilize the crisis, is vice versa doing a lot for destabilization. According to the British sponsored Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Turkey sent more than 17 thousand Syrian based militants and 10 thousand « jihadist » mercenaries of other countries to support the GNA in the Libyan conflict. Some of these mercenaries are in fact interested to emigrate to Europe which is now in deep social, sanitary and economical crisis, what is not likely to be useful for a stabilized situation within the EU. Especially in France, which faces a lot of problems, among them the fight against « jihadist » network due partly to French citizens who went to Syria at the time Western governements wanted to eliminate at any cost president Assad and who are now quite often sent to Libya. French people still mourn over hundreds of victims of murders in Nice, at the Bataclan hall, beside the Charlie Hebdo office. France had suffered from terrorist attacks performed by young criminals pretending to be radical islamists, so letting mercenaries coming from Syria and Libya within a country can be already qualified as assisting an offender. Especially since this will be mixed with the prevailing situation of mass unemployment, layouts and pandemy what makes newcomers unable to reintegrate a normal way of life.

Meanwhile, GNA officials assist offenders, organized crime and radicalism pretty openly. One of the most eloquent examples is the GNA Interior Minister Fathi Ali Bashaga and his connections to terrorist organizations. Previously, Bashaga was a member of one of the local criminal gangs that appeared after the disintegration of the Libyan State in 2011 due to NATO intervention. He seems now to be close to the extremist ideology carried on by such organisations like Al Qaida or ISIS, which are recognized as terroristic by many countries. Having taken the ministerial post, Bashaga did not cut off ties with the criminals. On the contrary, he enlisted their support. Bashaga is also closely associated with the leader of the terror group RADA, Abd al-Rauf Karra. It is RADA militants who have been detaining among others the Russian sociologist Maksim Shugalei and his translator Samer Sueifan in the unofficial Libyan prison of “Mitiga”.

 

In May this year, a movie named Shugaley outlining the fate of the two Russian scientists was shown on Russian TV. Even Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova commented in response to questions about the Russian citizens held as prisoners in Tripoli, highlighting the importance of this case.

 

But their plight has still sadly not been resolved. On August 11, the first trailer and posters of the movie Shugaley-2 which announced a follow-up recounting the dire situation of Maxim Shugaley and Samer Sueifan, was published on the web-site dedicated to the movie. Shugaley and Shugaley-2 have, according to the creators of the films, expressly been made to underscore the situation in Libya and the scale of lawlessness that certain authorities in the country have succumbed to.

 

At the same time, Maksim Shugaley`s case puts a spotlight on the more and more difficult relations between Turkey and Russia. Turkish authorities didn´t do anything to help in the liberation of the Russian sociologist and his translator, despite Ankara´s good relations with GNA.

 

So the Shugaley movie highlights not just a monstrous lawlessness in Libya due to which Russian scientists are illegaly kept in a secret prison, where human rights abuses are frequent, but also meddling of different powers in the Libyan conflict. France is not an exception – in July 2017 president Emmanuel Macron initiated talks between the GNA leader Fayez Sarraj and the LNA Marshal Khalifa Haftar. It is well known that mediating in the conflict applies certain responsibility for the results of the negotiations. So peaceful and diplomatic solution should be now one of the main interests both for European Union and France, since it is already neither possible nor smart to stay away and pretend neutrality regarding events in Libya.

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About : Ginette Hess Skandrani

Écologiste, membre co-fondatrice des Verts, présidente de "La Pierre et l'Olivier" réseau de solidarité avec le peuple de Palestine, Co-fondatrice de la commission d'enquête non gouvernementale sur la vérité en Libye,