News / Middle East

More Political Turmoil For Libya Likely in Coming Days

Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan addresses a news conference after his release and arrival at the headquarters of the Prime Minister's Office in Tripoli on Oct. 10, 2013.
Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan addresses a news conference after his release and arrival at the headquarters of the Prime Minister's Office in Tripoli on Oct. 10, 2013.
Two years after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, Libyans find themselves free of a vicious dictator but at the mercy of thousands militias who act with impunity, a central government unable to enforce its laws and authority, and an oil-based economy dramatically underperforming because of political instability.

Now Libyans are bracing for more turmoil after Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has promised to implicate political rivals in his abduction last week, claiming the incident was a coup attempt by his adversaries in parliament. 

Zeidan made his threat this week in an interview with Al-Arabiya  saying he would name names,  of those involved in his seven-hour kidnapping, setting the stage for a political showdown after the end of the three-day Eid religious holiday. 

The gunmen who barged into Zeidan’s hotel suite and seized him last week were just a few of the more than 200-thousand militiamen who roam Libyan cities and towns.  While they are paid by Libya’s Interior Ministry they answer to local commanders who represent competing tribal and regional interests.   The group that abducted Zeidan was reportedly formed recently by the speaker of the General National Congress, Libya’s parliament. Many other parliamentarians are connected with similar militias.

Analysts say the militias form a parallel state and that if Zeidan is to survive, he needs to curb their power – no small feat when Libya has yet to form a national army or a functioning police force since Gadhafi’s ouster.  

“Until individuals and groups agree to empower and submit to the authority of a central government and lay down their weapons, power continues to be loosely fragmented amongst revolutionary brigades,” said Wael Nawara, a former visiting fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Nawara said the mainly Islamist militias are “aborting the prospects of the emergence of a unified Libyan state” by challenging and defying the country’s fragile government.

The kidnapping of a Prime Minister whose authority stretches not much further than his office has marked a low point in Libya’s struggle to establish stability and order. But it didn’t come as a surprise to many Libyans. In recent months they have endured a blockade of oilfields and seaports by an assortment of militias and eastern Libyan federalists, a wave of assassinations and abductions in Benghazi and kidnappings and carjackings in Tripoli.

Support for Zeidan has waned among ordinary Libyans who have seen no significant improvement since he was elected last October by a narrow margin in the General National Congress. He is Libya’s third prime minister since Gadhafi’s ouster.

“People are getting tired,” said Nareen Abbas, an activist. “While we have seen an improvement in what we can buy with the opening of new shops, this has nothing to do with the government. We have not seen any improvement when it comes to security and there has been no progress on deciding how to elect a committee to draft a new constitution. We are stuck.”

Foreign businesses are concerned also at the gloomy political trajectory. Tripoli’s four luxury hotels are not bustling with international businessmen as they were a few months ago.  The American oil giant Exxon Mobil has reduced its staff in the country because of security fears observers said. Royal Dutch Shell halted exploration last year.

 “Zeidan’s kidnapping is just part of the pattern whereby Islamist and other militias are willing to use force to get what they want,” said a security analyst for Western firms who asked not to be named for this article. “Everyone has weapons and to a certain extent everyone is using them to make demands but Islamist-aligned thuwar (warrior) groups are definitely willing to take matters into their own hands when they feel political matters are not going their way.”

Islamist militias exert political influence

Islamist militias with the backing of a variety of Islamist politicians from the Muslim Brotherhood and smaller parties did just that in May when they blockaded government ministries to force the GNC to pass a law that excluded a wide range of people who had worked for the previous regime from holding public office.

The result of that law was to reduce the number of more secular-minded lawmakers, dozens of whom had to leave the GNC. And that has made Zeidan’s challenge even harder.  Ever since then he has been facing a hostile and Islamist-dominated General National Congress that has blocked his policies.

Following his abduction, Libya’s Islamists are stepping up the pressure.  Just days ago the leader of Libya's Muslim Brotherhood political party accused Zeidan of failing as a Prime Minister and said he should go.  Mohammed Sawan blamed mismanagement by Zeidan's government for the “irresponsible actions” of the kidnappers, a reference to the widely held belief that Zeidan gave approval for the U.S. commando raid that captured the al-Qaida suspect known as Abu Anas al-Libi.  The operation infuriated Islamists and prompted demonstrations in Benghazi where protesters accused Zeidan of being a Western puppet. 

A former adviser to Libya’s two previous post-Gadhafi prime ministers, Abdul Rahman El Mansouri, worries about what comes next.  He said Zeidan needs ordinary Libyans to show their support for him.  But he said Libyans seem to have given up hope. “We have had the blockade of the ministries and they didn’t come out on the streets to support the government. The electricity gets cut off and they don’t come up. The water was out for a week recently and they don’t come out. What will make them mount protests?”

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Adam from: UK
October 16, 2013 2:00 AM
Zeidan needs to crack down fast with his kidnappers and their co-conspirators in parliament. This would send a message to those who want him to fail so that they could take over. The main suspects are of course the islamists like members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. They are the loud minority and try anything to derail the government and provoke Zeidan into a violent reaction to win public suppor. The problem is that they are morally bankrupt with their conniving and back handing. Always undermining the government but always under-estimating the patient Libyan people. Actually all Zeidanhas to do is ride out their criticism and the public will rip into them at the right opportunity. We are sick of their violent ways and of their stand against progress.


by: Mustafa from: Canada
October 15, 2013 10:24 PM
PM Zeidan seeks revenge for his abduction while he never sought justice for those who have been abducted, kill, or tortured in the illegal jails of Libya. PM Zeidan has no shame in his failure to exert the authority of the law in Libya, and rather continues to insist he is the savior. In deed, the Libyans have given up hope and should consider the removal of Zeidan without any further delay and further turmoil. The GNC will bear the responsibility of failure of not acting to remove Zeidan and replacing him with a more effective candidate. Failing this, the GNC shall have its day to reckon with.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid