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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora