In Libya, surprises followed and events unfolded successively. After the Libyan revolution and the rebels’ occupation of Tripoli and its outskirts, a ceasefire initiative launched by the Government of National Accord, supported internationally, was unveiled. It has been violated, unarmed protesters were shot and detained.
These heinous transgressions against the Libyans prompted the interior minister Fathi Bashagha vowing to respond to the militias and stand on the side of the protesters. Finally, as the most powerful man within the GNA, he had fallen by a decision of his commander and companion, Fayez Al-Sarraj. He was suspended from work and referred for investigation regarding his recent statements that were “biased towards the demonstrators.”
The Militias’ Man
It is noteworthy that the bias was not resulted by Bashagha’s belief in the civil and legal rights of the protestors, always protected Sarraj in the past even at the expense of the citizens’s rights. He had also committed a heinous bloody massacre against many innocent people, remembered in Libya as the Gargour massacre. He was looking for a foothold in the state and was looking to lead the government after over throwing Sarraj and conducting a coup against him.
In this context, reliable sources revealed to MENA Research and Study Centre that the joint forces disclosed a coup plot against Sarraj, and it was planned by Bashagha who is supported by the militias of Misrata and the head of the State Advisory Council, Khaled Al-Mishri, in coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The same sources added that Sarraj is about to make decisions that will oust the MB members (listed on the list of terrorism in Libya) who belong to the GNA after their coup plot was revealed.
According to available information, both Al-Mishri and Bashagha are currently in Turkey, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a meeting this week with Al-Mishri in Istanbul. Meanwhile, the Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar received Bashagha in Ankara on August 28, from where the GNA Interior Minister issued a statement to gain the sympathy of the protestors.
An official source in the GNA said that Fayez Al-Sarraj decided to cancel his visit, which was scheduled for August 27 in Istanbul to meet with Erdogan. This indicates a split in the interests of Turkey and Sarraj, which prompted Ankara to circumvent this with a soft coup attempt against Sarraj.
It seemed that Sarraj has revealed that plot earlier, as he expressed his fear of a soft coup against him in his latest speech to the people of Tripoli: “I called for elections next March and I am afraid that some will enter into a political dialogue. A new presidential formation will disrupt the elections.” With those words, Sarraj was referring to his rival Fathi Bashagha, the GNA Interior Minister, who is supported by the Misrata Brigades, the strongest in the western region.
The scene has become divided, as the armed militias that were gathered no long time ago under the banner of Al-Sarraj to block the advance of the National Army forces, are now separated. The armed militias of the joint force lit fireworks in the Martyrs Square in the capital, while anger prevailed over their counterparts in Misrata, where a number of Bashaga’s loyalists went out in demonstrations and chanted slogans like: “Bashagha Bashagha … O Saraj, you coward, free people are in the field.”
Om the other hand, the force of protecting Tripoli issued a statement in which it praised the decision of the presidential council, describing it as a daring decision. It stressed that the decision confirmed the legitimate authority and that no one is above the law.
Bashagha Controls Tripoli
Some sources in the GNA confirmed that Bashagha together with Khaled Al-Mishri and the Muslim Brotherhood were plotting a coup against Al-Sarraj.
The sources explained that the coup aimed at controlling Tripoli by Bashagha and securing it, in addition to running the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance. They point at a protocol signed with the ministries so that the MB could participate in the Skhirat dialogue a month later, in coordination with the UN and representatives from the western region.
The sources pointed out the MB was forced out of the game according to the outcomes of Berlin Conference and the announcement of ceasefire by the Libyan parliament and the GNA. The fall of Bashagha is none of the MB concern, the sources added, they would rather create a new game, as the dialogue will take place soon and they are not a part of the international accounts.
This fear was clearly demonstrated, when Sarraj met with a number of military and security officers loyal to the GNA, including the head of the intelligence service, officers of the military regions, the commander of the counterterrorism force, the deputy head of internal security, the head of the public security apparatus, the commander of the security division in the joint forces, and the director of Tripoli security.
Some armed factions have celebrated the presidential decision of dismissing Bashagha, while others criticized the decision and sending Bashagha for investigation.
Bashagha had publically announced his readiness to be investigated after dismissing him.
In a statement issued by his office, Bashagha added that when demonstrations took place in the capital Tripoli, he objected “to the security measures issued by armed parties not affiliated with the ministry, and for abusing the dignity of the Libyan citizen, the violation of his rights and the waste of his blood in oppression, intimidation and silencing the mouths, where there is no law.”
Bashagha emphasized that his position was biased towards “the Libyan people in demanding their just rights by peaceful means.”
Bashagha concluded his statement by requesting that “the questioning and investigation session be public and broadcasted live.”
Observers expect developments of the issue between the armed militias loyal to Bashagha and the other loyal to Sarraj. They expect that armed clashes might take place between the two parties and victims might be civilians, especially since the Misrata militia will try to avenge its loss of influence in Tripoli after the departure of the most powerful man.