Rebels in Libya and Their Increasing Influence

In televised statements, Haitham al-Tajouri, commander of the “Tripoli Rebel Brigade”, has sharply attacked Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, describing it as a poor government.

Al-Tajouri demanded to be informed if forces want to enter to Tripoli, whether they are patrols or any force that wants to deploy in the city. That demand is a related to charges he directed to the GNA Minister of Interior Fathi Bashaga, who was accused of trying to control the entrances and exits of the capital Tripoli. Tajouri stressed that the GNA suffers from disputes and that there are neither army nor police in Libya.

Tajouri attacks Bashaga

“Despite what Libya is going through right now, we haven’t seen any action by the Ministry of Interior, nor we have seen any army other that the army of al-Sobat that appears suddenly and disappears suddenly,” Tajouri pointed out.  “I and those with me who went out in the February Revolution, we have revolted in the street and still supporting the street, so if the army and police are absent, will we leave the people?” he added.

In relation to the statement issued against him, Tajouri said: “We are far away from any statements, our only concern are the people inside Tripoli.”

“The government is poor, people in Tripoli are tired, and we have found only useless statements by officials, we are with the people and the street, we will not defend the state’s institutions. If anyone thinks of assaulting a citizen or holding arms, he will be deterred with force in Tripoli,” Tajouri said.

Al-Tajouri demanded to be informed if forces are planning to enter Tripoli, whether they are patrols or any force that wants to deploy in the city. He said that he knows who is supporting the ideas of the February Revolution and who is against it, noting at the same time that he will not prevent the entry of any force belonging to the Ministry of Defense or the Chief of Staff. This indicates that he threatens any security forces belonging to Bashaga.

He explained that he was among the first to support the army and the police by supporting the power of the directorates and centers and that he had evidence and documents. He concluded that the time now does not allow for bidding about who gave more to February Revolution. He claimed that the circumstance now imposes being bias for people.

It is noteworthy that the GNA Interior Ministry added Tajouri to the wanted lists on charges of stealing public money. The ministry demanded the militia of deterrence and rapid intervention known as Ghneiwa militia, to hand him over.

Tajouri’s statements come, as the militias of his “Tripoli Rebel Brigade” were deploying in Tripoli over the last two days. Due to this situation, observers believed that a wave of clashes will erupt again between militias in the Libyan capital.

At the end of last November, Tajouri arrived in Tunisia from the UAE, but the Tunisian authorities refused to grant him entry. Despite Fayez Al-Siraj’s mediation with the Tunisian foreign ministry to allow him to enter, his demand was rejected, as Tajouri was listed as one of the former warlords. Therefore, he returned aboard the same plane to the UAE.

Counting on Smugglers

Apparently the reason that analysts predict clashes between militias is that the GNA Minister of Defense Salah al-Namroush counts on a number of smugglers and internationally wanted figures such as Muhammed Kashlaf who is punished by the Security Council and wanted by the Public Prosecutor.

During Namroush latest visit to the headquarters of guards of the oil facilities, the smuggler appeared with him. He is known as one of the smuggling emperors at the western coast. He collected his wealth from smuggling oil from the refinery and selling it for higher price. During the latest lockdown he disappeared, but he showed up again when oil and fuel started to flow again.

He leads militias belonging to the one of oil guards, although he is included on the Security Council sanctions list, and that includes travel ban and freezing of money, in addition to local sanctions by the Tripoli Public Prosecutor.

In the photos published by the Ministry of Defense, Kashlaf appears in the first lines after a long absence due to the detention of his close partner “Albidja”. This leads us to question the seriousness of Bashaga who claims that he is fighting those people.

The ministry revealed that the meeting attended by Kaflash discussed training, coordination of work and means of supporting the system financially and technically so that it can function perfectly, meaning that Al-Namroush is still trying to assign Kaflash and fund him.

For many years, Kaflash has been controlling the Zawiya oil refinery, despite National Institution President Mustafa Sonallah’s claims that he was against him and that he suspended him to stop smuggling and extortion. However, his presence with the Minister of Defense and talking about funding him suggests otherwise.

Recently, Turkish drones launched air strikes against small smugglers’ positions, the GNA said it is a campaign to fight smuggling, but in fact it seems that they tried to decrease smuggling and keep it for certain persons having relations with the government departments, as in the case of Kaflash and Namroush.

GNA Decisions Include Terrorists

Namroush’s relations with suspicious members are not limited to smugglers, he sought help of previous IS member. He also issued a decree entrusting Mohamed Balim with managing and following up the file of exchange of prisoners and bodies, in cooperation with the Ministry’s Standing Committee for Humanitarian Affairs. Kaflash had previously participated in the battles that extremists waged against the National Army forces in Benghazi city, before fleeing to Tripoli.

Analysts believe that terrorists might be entrusted in high positions in the Ministry of Defense since it belongs to the military department of Terrorism Mufti al-Sadeq al-Ghariani. However, it is surprising that al-Sarraj does not reject the Mufti requests. The analysts confirmed that the government’s weakness created opportunities for the militias to empower themselves with the support of Mufti.

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