In his move to weaken one of the opposition Tripoli-based militias, incumbent caretaker prime minister Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba struck last week against the Nawasi (Eight Force) militia.
Nawasi had reportedly invested millions in the Sinbad (former Lido) resort and took over its management, charging middle class entry fee rates. Aldabaiba had it destroyed last week saying the location is publicly owned and is being returned to the rightful owner. The renamed Rada (SDF – Special Deterrence Force) militia carried out the destruction of the site.
Aldabaiba’s double standards
Aldabaiba’s move has naturally drawn wide public criticism on multiple fronts. It would have been welcomed if he applied the principle towards all militias, but his move is purely political. It follows on from last week’s militia clashes, where his aligned militias clashed with those supporting Fathi Bashagha.
Aldabaiba had lost a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives (HoR). The HoR then selected Fathi Bashagha as his replacement in March this year. Aldabaiba does not recognize the vote of no-confidence nor the selection of Bashagha. Bashagha attempted to enter Tripoli several times to take over as prime minister but was opposed militarily by Aldabaiba.
Bashagha then himself tried to enter Tripoli using force. Last wee some of his allied militias in Tripoli – Nawasi and former the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigades – had their central Tripoli bases violently taken over. The destruction of the Lido is part of that move.
PR own goal: Aldabaiba had opened the Lido last July
The irony is that Aldabaiba had opened the Nawasi managed Lido last July. In opening it he had conceded several public relations own goals.
Firstly, Aldabaiba was happy to be associated with the Nawasi managed Sinbad Lido even though he knew very well that Nawasi had no right to the publicly owned site.
Secondly, the day after he had opened the Nawasi managed Lido, his environment minister banned swimming in it due to its polluted water caused by the well-known sewage flows near the resort.
Thirdly, there was social media derision and mockery aimed at Aldabaiba at the time as he had just announced a lockdown, closing cafes, restaurants events halls, etc, to prevent mass gatherings – the type of mass gathering which the Prime Minister participated in at the Lido opening.
Fourthly, the ire of the public had also increased by the fact that during the Qaddafi-era and beyond, the then Sinbad resort was a public resort charging minimal nominal entry fees.
Having allegedly spent millions developing it, the Nawasi militia subsequently started charging middle-class rate entry fees. Social media critics questioned how a resort that was once accessible for all has become a resort for the high earning elite.
Fifthly, many have criticised why having allowed Nawasi to invest millions in developing the site, the site should be literally destroyed. They argue that the site could have simply been taken over by a public entity charging average entry fees – rather than actually destroying the lido.
Short-termist militia support
The anti Nawasi and other militia campaign by Aldabaiba shows that Aldabaiba, and several previous prime ministers, do not oppose militias as a matter of principle, but only if they do not support their administration. It is a short termist outlook that does not support the recreation of a strong Libyan state through the non-militia institutions of an army and police.
It is unclear whether Aldabaiba will now move to disrupt the revenue earning operations of other militias.
Environment Ministry bans swimming in newly reopened Lido resort – the day after the PM visits it (libyaherald.com)
Aldabaiba calls for closing of central Tripoli militia barracks (libyaherald.com)