By Jamal Adel.
Kufra, 16 August 2014.
While armed clashes rage in Libya’s two main cities, Kufra, with approximately 60,000 inhabitants in the southeast of . . .[restrict]the country, is experiencing a new and unexpected season of calm. Electricity is working well, the roads are clean and well maintained and negotiations between the long-warring Tebu and Zwai combatants are proving successful without the need of a third-party mediator.
“We have had a number of meetings with Zwai tribe members in order to find a starting point towards a genuine reconciliation in the town,” Abdullah Al-Tebawey, a leading Tebu member in the reconciliation talks, told the Libya Herald.
Fighting originally began in the small oasis of Kufra in February 2012 between the Tebu minority and the Arab-majority Zwai tribesmen. The fighting resulted in many deaths and casualties before the Libya Eastern Shield forces intervened in the region and brought about a tenuous peace.
Nevertheless, more armed clashes erupted in June 2012, this time between the Libya Shield forces and the Tebu fighters, causing severe damage to property and immense loss of life. Tebu rights activists abroad even filed complaints with the International Criminal Court.
Prior to the clashes, the Tebu community and Zwai in Kufra had enjoyed a long history of good relations, with marriages taking place between Tebu and Zwai individuals and the two communities cooperating as neighbours.
Following 17 February revolution, tensions between the two groups began to bubble over. The Zwai became aligned with the eastern Islamist Libya Shield forces while the Tebu developed links with the National Alliance Party and its military wing in the western mountain town of Zintan.
The Zwai, backed by the eastern Shields, began to attempt to force the Tebu out of the region.
Now, however, while both Tripoli and Benghazi experience deadly clashes, the long-standing combatants of Kufra have begun to realise that now is the time for reconciliation. A good number of clerics and civil society activists have launched a series of talks, earnestly searching for common ground in which a fresh bloodless chapter of social peace and consistency is sought.
“A great amount of blood has been spilled over nothing in Kufra in the three and half last years” said Tebawey, “No one can brag of gaining anything out of it. The winner in this unjustified fight is the same as the loser – you cannot simply just win all or lose all”
Kufra residents say it is crystal clear that now is time for reason and that they want to maintain peace and calm in their town, no matter what is happening in other parts of Libya.
However, tensions, mistrust and resentment still simmer beneath the surface.
“We will work towards reconciliation. I will go for the reconciliation, even though I feel I have endured mistreatment for nothing,” Ahraf Kali, mechanical engineer and resident in Kufra, told this newspaper.
Kufra has around 5,000 Tebus and 55,000 Zwai and other Arab residents. The small oasis is famous for its groves of mango trees and date palms. [/restrict]