Following Friday’s Tripoli militia clashes, state recognized militias clashed briefly in Misrata yesterday to add to tensions in western Libya.
The Joint Operations Force (JOF), aligned to caretaker Prime Minister Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba, came under gunfire at an unofficial roadblock at the western entrance of Misrata yesterday. They reported injuries. The JOF attributed the attack to the Mahjoub Brigade aligned to the House of Representatives appointed Prime Minister, Fathi Bashagha.
Heightened tensions demonstrate the urgent necessity for elections
Commenting on the Misrata clashes, U.S. Ambassador Richard Norland said yesterday: “Today’s clashes in Misrata demonstrate the dangerous prospect that the recent violence will escalate. The United States urges all political actors and their supporters among armed groups to stand down in order to avoid escalation and further loss of life.
Armed efforts either to test or to defend the political status quo risk bringing Libya back to an era its citizens thought had been left behind. Those responsible for such a scenario will be held accountable.
These heightened tensions demonstrate the urgent necessity for Libya’s political leaders to immediately embrace an agreed path to elections which can install a truly legitimate, unified government to serve the interests of all Libyans.”
The clashes are a worrying sign of the possibility of further militia clashes in western Libya. They can be attributed to the political division manifested in the existence of two competing prime ministers. But they also manifest long-term instability since the 2011 revolution that overthrew the Qaddafi regime.
The Libyan state has failed since 2011 to establish political legitimacy and re-establish itself in the form of strong institutions – including security institutions. Libya is still a militia dominated state – states that are recognized and subsidised by the rentier state’s oil money. Successive governments since 2011 have failed to reform the militias and failed to impose a unified state monopoly on the legitimate use of force.