News / Middle East

Tribal Leaders Unveil 'Save Libya' Plan

Libyans run for cover after fighting broke out outside the office of Libya Shield pro-government militia in Benghazi, Libya. June 8, 2013 (AP/APTV)
Libyans run for cover after fighting broke out outside the office of Libya Shield pro-government militia in Benghazi, Libya. June 8, 2013 (AP/APTV)
— The slaying of a Libyan government minister – the first killing of a top official since the ouster two years ago of dictator Moammar Gadhafi—is adding to alarms about Libya’s future. Three days of ethnic clashes in the south of the country and a prolonged standoff between Libya’s parliament and Prime Minister have prompted tribal leaders to unveil a “Save Libya” plan but some observers question whether they have any authority left to impose order. 
 
The assassination of Hassan al-Darouei, a deputy industry minister, as he drove home from a shopping trip in the Mediterranean port city of Sirte, 450 Kilometers east of the capital Tripoli, capped two days of violence that saw an assassination attempt on a separatist leader in the eastern town of Beida and the killing of a Special Forces officer who was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in the town of Derna.
 
The government minister’s killing came amid rising tensions in the south of Libya where African-origin Tabu tribesmen battled Arabs in the desert city of Sabha in running battles that left 31 dead and 65 injured, according to the country’s health ministry. Ethnic violence has been endemic in Libya’s south but has worsened since Gadhafi’s ouster with flare-ups becoming more intense.
 
This latest episode has so far proven difficult to mediate by tribal elders drawn from across Tripoli, Misrata and Zintan. Mediation teams of elders have managed in the past to bring ethnic fighting quickly to a halt.
 
Sabha isn’t the only place tribal elders are trying to defuse conflict. With politics increasingly paralyzed in the capital between Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) and Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who is under pressure to resign and has been weakened by political infighting and the refusal of wayward militias spawned from the uprising against Gadhafi to disband, tribal leaders are now trying to craft a “Save Libya” plan.
 
They have been holding behind-the-scenes talks with party leaders to try to find a way out of the political impasse. But whether they can make a difference remains in question and some analysts doubt they will be able to exert much pressure on politicians and militia leaders alike. “No one under the age of 40 listens to the tribal leaders,” says North Africa expert Bill Lawrence, a visiting professor at George Washington University. “They just don’t have the influence people think they do.”
 
Tribal leaders are not the only ones with initiatives to help Libya overcome multiple challenges. Libya’s former deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushugar recently launched a ‘’Restoring Hope Initiative for Libya’’. He argues the government has failed “to “realize a minimum of achievements’’ especially in the security realm and has exacerbated the crises roiling the country without any signs of any breakthrough.
 
He places a lot of blame for this less on the Prime Minister and more on the GNC, which he says is ‘’split’’ and is ‘’incapable of lifting the country out of the current crises’’. He wants early elections for a new national parliament.
 
Anther elder statesman of the initial political leadership of the uprising, Mahmoud Jibril, who heads a party alliance of centrist groups, launched late last month the “National Salvation Initiative.” His checklist includes persuading militias to disband by offering a buy-back system for weapons with a pricelist for light and medium weapons and a deadline set for arms collection. Also, he wants towns that hand over heavy arms such as tanks and rockets to be rewarded their equivalent value in construction and development money.
 
Under Jibril’s plan former militia members would enjoy priority for state jobs. Sami Zaptia, the co-founder of the English-language Libya Herald newspaper, argues Jibril’s initiative is more a “shopping list of proposals being put on offer” for an impasse-breaking deal with Islamists in the GNC.
 
A majority of Libya’s fractious parliamentarians want to dismiss Prime Minister Zeidan but have been unable to agree on a replacement, say GNC members. The push to replace Zeidan coincides with a worsening standoff between his government and federalist militias in the East over control of Libyan oil. Since July they have controlled three key oil ports and Zeidan’s inability to engineer an end to the standoff has weakened his political standing.
 
Tribal leader efforts to end the standoff between the federalist militias and the central government over the oil ports have so far also failed, raising questions about whether Libya has reached the point where mediation efforts can succeed in stopping the country’s slide into chaos.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid