|After the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, longstanding regional, ethnic and economic disputes have erupted in many areas as well-armed groups jostle for power and control of resources in the new Libya. The failure of the National Transitional Council (NTC) to disarm the militias and build a legitimate national military has exacerbated the conflicts.|
This remote southeastern Libyan town that has long been at the crossroads of trafficking routes shot into the headlines when deadly clashes erupted in February 2012 between the Tubu - an indigenous black African tribe spread across the border regions of southern Libya, northern Chad and northeastern Niger – and Zuwaya Arabs.
Persecuted under Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, the Tubu are determined to fight for their rights and their share of the cross-border trade in the new Libya.
The clashes prompted Libyan authorities to dispatch military reinforcements to quell the fighting. Tubu residents claim the Libyan Shield forces, the NTC-controlled coalition of seven militias, intervened alongside the Zuwaya against the Tubu. Clashes continued during the spring of 2012.
Site of an important military base and airfield, this southern Libyan city saw deadly ethnic clashes erupt in March 2012 between the Tubu - an indigenous black African tribe spread across the border regions of southern Libya, northern Chad and northeastern Niger – and Arab tribesmen.
In a bid to quell the violence, the NTC dispatched troops to Sabha. In the absence of a national army, the NTC called on Arab militias from Misrata, Ajdabiya, Zintan and Benghazi. But tensions continue to simmer in what is widely seen as a fight for control of the borders and desert smuggling routes.
Located in Libya’s Misrata district, this desert town – dominated by the loyalist Warfalla tribe - was one of the last Gaddafi strongholds during the 2011 uprising.
In January 2012, violence erupted following the attack of an NTC-controlled military base in the town. Locals say it was caused by the harassment of residents by NTC-aligned fighters. The NTC brought rebel units from Misrata and other areas to take control of the situation.
By January 2012, the Libyan Defence Ministry had recognised a tribal-based local council, which overthrew the local NTC council, as the new authority.
In the birthplace of the anti-Gaddafi uprising, public anger is mounting following the NTC’s move to Tripoli amid fears that the Gaddafi-era marginalisation of the eastern province of Cyrenaica will continue. Eastern Libya is home to most of the country’s oil reserves, but was deprived of funds under Gaddafi.
Between April-July 2012, there were several small-scale attacks on western targets, including the prime minister’s office and the Red Cross. The attacks have been blamed on djihadists.
Amid mounting calls for regional autonomy, in early March, Benghazi notables announced plans to establish an autonomous Cyrenaican government. In mid-May, Libya’s second-largest city held its own local elections.
Deadly clashes erupted in April 2012 in this predominantly Berber city between the Berber ethnic group (“Amazigh”) - and their Arab neighbours from surrounding towns. While Zuwara joined the anti-Gaddafi uprising early, the surrounding Arab enclaves stayed loyal to Gaddafi until his fall.
Many Libyans believe the clashes were a battle for control of this port city located close to the Tunisian border. Libyan Interior Minister Fawzi Abdel Aal has called on the two sides to negotiate, underlining Tripoli’s inability to contain yet another ethnic skirmish.
In early June 2012, the NTC dispatched troops from the Libyan National Shield, the NTC-controlled coalition of seven militias, to quell clashes between Zintan and Mashashiya tribal fighters.
The Mashashiya ( “walkers”) are a traditionally nomadic tribe once favoured by Gaddafi, who allocated land and housing around the Zintan area to them.
But the Libyan National Shield fighters are primarily from the Zintan tribe making ongoing efforts to resolve disputes and end the violence.
Zintan tribal power has surged in the new Libya after Zintani fighters advanced on Tripoli from the west in the final push to oust Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 uprising. Zintan rebel units are still present in the capital. They have refused to disarm or hand over their prize prisoner, the former Libyan strongman’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.
Around this western Libyan town, fighting has broken out in areas between Zintan and Mashashiya fighters. While Zintan tribesmen were at the forefront of the anti-Gaddafi revolt, they accuse the Mashashiya of backing the old regime and harbouring criminal elements.
Rebel units from Misrata formed the eastern arm of the pincer-like final assault on Tripoli to oust Muammar Gaddafi. That, and the city’s fabled resistance during the 2011 uprising, has made Misrata an important location in the post-Gaddafi scramble for power.
Clashes erupted between Misrata and Zintani units in the capital of Tripoli for control of strategic sites such as the airport.
In Libya’s third-largest city, rebels have refused to disarm and have set up checkpoints at the entrance to the city. In February 2012, Misrata became the first Libyan city to hold local council elections amid frustrations over the NTC’s slow pace of democratic transition.
Multiple skirmishes between the largely nomadic Tuareg and sedentary town residents over control of the local governing council have destroyed parts of this ancient town, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Located at the borders of Tunisia and Algeria, Ghadames is home to smuggling and protection rackets by Tuaregs providing security to traders’ caravans. Following Muammar Gaddafi’s fall, there were reprisal attacks against Tuaregs, who are perceived as Gaddafi-loyalists.