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

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    First Human Head Transplant Planned for 2017

    Italian neurosurgeon, assisted by team of 100 medical staff, to perform 36-hour surgery on Russian man with debilitating muscle-wasting disease

    Biden Urges Global Focus on Cancer as a 'Constant Emergency'

    At Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Vice president notes that cancer kills more than 3,000 people each day in US alone

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora