On Tuesday, armed clashes between rival armed groups have resumed in the area of Airport road south of Tripoli, disrupting a ceasefire agreement reached in early September.
As a result of damage to generators and the city’s public electricity networks, a vast area from Tripoli up to Ras Ajdir on the border with Tunisia, and to the Libya’s southern Fezzan region has been plunged into a total blackout, the electricity authorities said.
On September 4, UNSMIL-brokered ceasefire signed by GNA officials, military commanders and armed groups’ leaders temporarily suspended two week-long fighting in the Libyan capital Tripoli.
According to Health Ministry data, deadly clashes left at least 60 people killed, including two children, and more than 150 injured. 1800 families were forced to flee for their lives.
Small and heavy arms clashes between armed groups that have been dominating the capital since the Qaddafi’s overthrow have erupted on August 26.
The so-called 7th brigade from the town of Tarhouna – which had been considered a unit of the GNA army, but was actually officially dissolved on this April – launched a surprise offensive against pro-government militias such as Tripoli Revolutionaries’s brigade (TRB), Nawasi and Gneiwa.
The 7th brigade – known as Kaniyat – succeed to push back militias and, with the backing from Misurata’s fighters headed by a ‘Libya Dawn’ former leader Saleh Badi, took over the whole strategic airport road (Tariq al-Matar).
Spokesman for the brigade Abdul Salam Ashour said the dominance over the Airport road could facilitate the movement of troops deeper into Tripoli to sweep ‘abusers of public budget’ out of the city.
Immediately before and during the attack, Abdul Salam Ashour on behalf of 7th brigade repeatedly accused those militias who have a strong affiliation with the internationally recognized National Unity government and largely enjoy public funding of corruption and embezzlement.
15% of the whole Libyan budget, i.e. 6,5 billion LYD is provided as salaries for the militias that form the basis of the GNA Defense and Interior Ministries, a member of the Libyan Parliament Abdessalam Nasiya complained commenting on how much militias cost to the Libyan authorities.
Some experts on Libya who have been closely observing recent dramatic security developments berate the Unity government over the failure of disengaging rival sides as well as re-establishing security in the capital.
However, most of them are inclined to consider the issue of armed groups who got a firm grip on Tripoli and state institutions a complex challenge that can’t be solved overnight.
The efforts announced by the Unity government as well as other legitimate authorities in western Libya seem insufficient to force the armed groups to lay down their weapons, because that would deprive them of their power and crucial state’s funding amid growing unemployment and persistent economic weakness.
The UN group of experts on Libya issued a report which almost coincided with a ceasefire deal, blaming the armed groups active in Tripoli for growing impact on Libyan state institutions.
The report submitted to the UN Security Council argues that the armed groups seeking promotion of their own political and economic interests use violence to gain control over state infrastructure and institutions.
“Threats and attacks against public servant are widespread across the country and are particularly noticeable in Tripoli,” the experts indicate, adding “the violent competition to capture the Libyan State is hampering the political transition in the country.”