Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Outbreaks of violence in Benghazi and Tripoli

In the past week there have been outbreaks of violence in Libya's two largest cities – albeit for different reasons.

The attempt by major interests in eastern Libya to have a tribally-based constitution in which the former province of Cyrenaica would become semi-autonomous within Libya has met with major opposition from what appears to be an organised source - allegedly the political Islamists - in Benghazi.

The latter oppose moves towards autonomy for two reasons: firstly because, as the likely winners, they do not want anything to postpone or alter the forthcoming elections. Secondly, the predominantly conservative tribal autonomists are viewed as a throwback to the monarchy headed by King Idris. He was also the head of the indigenous Senussi Brotherhood or Sufi politico-religious order which could both provide competition for allegiance of pious Libyans, particularly in the east, and also Sufism and mysticism considered apostasy by Sunni Muslim extremists.

On 16 March, a demonstration supporting the creation of an autonomous region was attacked by mobs which drove them out of the main square. During the incident one person was killed and several others were severely injured. The whole affair ended with the militias driving the attackers out of central Benghazi.

Meanwhile, on 18 March, a skirmish took place in the Abu Selim district of Tripoli between one of the militias there and the local residents. The powerful Zintan militia was confronted by what were termed ex-Qadhafi supporters, and a prolonged shooting match took place during which one militia man was killed. The Zintan militia still retains a considerable garrison in Tripoli and this situation is greatly disliked by the local people.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

No comments:

Post a Comment