By Sami Zaptia.
London, 17 September 2018:
Libya’s Ministry of Interior, aligned to the Faiez Serraj Presidency Council and Government of National Accord, claimed that it had taken over the security of Tripoli’s only operating airport, Mitiga airport today.
During a press conference held at the airport this morning, PC/GNA Minister of Interior Mohamed Ashour, flanked by the head of the Civil Aviation Authority and the Manager of Mitiga airport, said that as part of the new Security Arrangements announced after the south of Tripoli militia fighting, the internal perimeter of the airport will be secured by the Central Security Forces, which will be responsible for the work inside the airport.
He also claimed that the airport will reopen soon.
The Central Security Force is a regular police force part of the PC/GNA Ministry of Interior.
The irony is that the Serraj administration has always pretended that the airport was under the control of its Ministry of Interior as the militias there are recognized by it. They are paid their wages from state coffers sanctioned by the Serraj government. Hence if a handover did take place today, it was between two forces recognized by the Tripoli government.
However, it remains to be seen if the former custodians of the Mitiga airport complex, the powerful Special Deterrence Force (SDF/ Rada) led by Abelrauf Kara will indeed handover the whole Mitiga complex.
The large sprawling Mitiga and former Wheelus U.S. Air Force airbase doubles up as the headquarters for the SDF, a prison for terrorists, an Air Force airbase and a civilian airport.
It is not clear if the RADA will indeed handover all their gains since the 2011 revolution or simply and cosmetically handover the civilian airport.
On the other hand, if the Madkhali Rada force does make some kind of real concession to central government, it could set a precedent and act as a template for a handover by other militias.