Monday, July 22

Libya: Al-Zawiya’s Security Crisis, Recrimination Fly

Youth in al-Zawiya city west of Tripoli protesting the deterioration of security situation in their city, 27 April 2023.

By The Tripoli Post Staff Writer

Tripoli_  As the security situation in the fourth largest city in Libya, al-Zawiya, deteriorates further every day, politicians try to cover their failures by blaming each other about who would be responsible for the continued violence and destruction in the city.

The city, which is located 40 kilometers west of Tripoli, witnessed on Thursday’s early hours the outbreak of angry protests against the lack of security, the increase in kidnappings and murders as well as the shortages of fuel, lack of basic services and the sheer failure of local authorities to meet the needs of their constituency.

Al-Zawiya city is the home of Zawiya Refinery which is Libya’s largest oil refinery with capacity of up to 120,000 barrels per day.

The protests came against the backdrop of a number of killings during the days following the end of the month of Ramadan as a result of fighting among armed groups in the city followed by the airing on social media of video clips showing young men being severely tortured by Libyans and other individuals of African origin.

Zawiya Refinery, Libya’s largest oil refinery with capacity of 120,000 bpd.

The protesters marched in the city center and closed main roads and gates with dirt mounds and burned rubber tires, as an expression of their rejection of the disastrous level of security that their city has reached in the absence of any role for the government.

As the Government of National Unity (GNU) in Tripoli ignored the continuous security and instability crisis in the city Bitter recrimination flew at all directions involving politicians, activists and the public whose frustration at the lack of any political and economic improvement in the country is very high.

The head of the Parliament appointed government, Fathi Bashagha, commented on the insulting leaked video clip by saying: “Have we reached this far? The state must be restablished.”

The Chairman of the High State Council (HSC) Khaled al-Mishri criticized the GNU and PM Abdulhamid Dabbiaba in a series of tweets saying that “in light of the complete collapse of national security and the encroachment of Libyan lands by illegal immigration, we find the government busy using state funds and executive institutions for the purpose of remaining in control.”

Al-Mashri added that the GNU is “a government of one city, and it only thing it cares about is that the coffers of the LCB remain widely open for it.”

“The government’s preoccupation with holding parties and organizing delusive gatherings made it ignore what is happening in the fourth largest Libyan city, which is only 40 km away from the PM’s office,” he added.

Mr. Mishri himself was criticized as being responsible in some way for the chaos in Libya. Former diplomat Hassan Saghyer wrote on Facebook that “Al-Mishri only settles his accounts with Dabbiaba as he knows that the problem is not from this government or the previous on… the militias can only ceases to exist by means of a strong army and Mishri has been the army’s biggest foes.”

Tawfiq al-Shuhaibi, a Libyan writer and political analyst, tweeted that the situation in Libya as a whole is not right. Kidnapping, imprisonment and torture are almost everywhere. “It makes no difference whether the one who kidnaps or tortures is a Libyan or a foreigner, but in al-Zawiyah, unfortunately, its situation is the worst comparing to all of the places in Libya.”

Meanwhile, in a statement issued by the recently emerged movement called “Harak al-Zawiya”, or Al-Zawiya Movement, )  the inhabitants announced the continuation of their civil disobedience and demanded the suspension of the Municipal Council, its members, and the head of Security Directorate. They consider them all accountable to the deteriorating conditions of the city and they want them to be brought to justice.

The also demanded an end to the appearance and manifestation of armed vehicles roaming the streets throughout the day and continuously intimidating civilians as well as the removal of militias’ headquarters to areas outside the city limits.  

The statement underlined the need to abolish the armed groups that have been appointed by the Ministry of Interior and Defense illegally, and also bring an end to the so-called Joint Security Force to be replaced by a force that serves the interest of the public.

In addition to demanding bring to justice all criminals who have been involved in killings and other crimes, the Harak demanded that foreign elements who are affiliated with gangs and armed groups must be apprehended along with cleaning the illegal immigration dens that are scattered around the area.  

It also called for ending fuel smuggling, preventing fuel selling on roads and holding accountable the owners of gas stations who are profiteering from the black market and smugglers.

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