Nahla Abdel Moneim
Differences between members of Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli have escalated, with two camps forming in support of GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj on the one side and Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha on the other.
It seems that Sarraj is no longer the most profitable bet for the Turkish agenda in Libya, especially with the end of the specified period for the Presidential Council that was appointed in accordance with the Skhirat Agreement signed in Morocco in 2015, in addition to his multiple military losses and his inability to confront the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. A new camp is being prepared to take over the leadership under the auspices of Ankara, and this will not be through new men, but rather, it will only switch roles between them.
Sarraj is afraid of being completely overthrown or even having his powers reduced. Accordingly, the conflicts within the GNA are happening publicly between Turkey’s burned card, Sarraj, and the militia leader closest to Erdogan’s government, Bashagha.
On August 2, Sky News revealed, through its own military sources, new cracks led by Bashagha against the camp of Osama al-Juwaili, the military commander of the Western Region and the main leader of the Tripoli militias that Sarraj uses in his war to loot Libya’s oil resources.
Meanwhile, Erem News reported that the recent conflict resulted from orders issued by Bashagha to arrest mercenaries run by Juwaili southwest of Tripoli against the backdrop of these mercenaries refusing to comply with Bashagha’s orders, as they are only subject to Juwaili’s directives.
Under the weight of the militia conflict, the western front of Libya is tearing apart. Bashagha is tightening his grip on the Misrata militias, which have played a major role in the Turkish conflict in Libya, and he is working hard to enable his militias to use weapons sent from Ankara.
The sharp differences among the militias and their backers appeared after Misrata militia leader Mohammed Arfidah al-Misrati was killed in March. These are the militias under Bashagha’s direct control. At that time, the finger of blame was directed at the Nawasi militia in Tripoli, which in turn explains the attack launched by Bashagha in February against the Nawasi militia, accusing it of financial corruption. These disputes did not happen for the sake of Libya, but for the interest of imposing control and influence, dreaming of power, and bullying abroad.
Struggle for influence
It is clear that the conflict led by Bashagha is not limited to the dispute with the camps supporting Sarraj, but rather reaching direct confrontation with the prime minister. On July 8, Bashagha sent a memorandum to the GNA transportation minister to prevent any private planes from taking off or landing without direct written permission from him, which represented a fierce battle with Sarraj, who considered this an encroachment on the powers that he granted himself and an attempt by Bashagha to tighten his control over the government.
Then, Sarraj issued a memorandum on July 24, informing the transportation minister and the head of the aviation sector that granting permission to travel or land is his sole prerogative, and that Bashagha may only review the lists of travelers and not grant them permission.
Mobilizing via claims of integrity
The conflicts between Bashagha and Sarraj have also spilled over to social networking sites such as Twitter, which are witnessing great activity by groups claiming to support Bashagha taking over the country, especially a page called “The Popular Libyan Group to Support the Minister of Interior”. The page claims that Bashagha seeks to purify Tripoli from corruption, but it seems that this was adopted to attract false sympathy for the new man supported by Turkey and the Brotherhood.
Commenting on this, Mahmoud al-Misrati, editor of the Akhbar al-Hadath newspaper, wrote on Twitter that the rifts currently taking place between Sarraj and Bashagha are due to the fact that the former used his groups to plunder the country’s wealth unilaterally, while the Brotherhood and Misrata militias did not obtain what they wanted in terms of wealth. It is therefore only a conflict of interests in which the economic suffering of citizens is used as a tool for political and social fraud.