GNU deploys military forces to contain situation at Ras Ajdir

Mar 23, 2024 | Libyan actors

On the evening of 23 March, the Government of National Unity’s (GNU) Western Coast Military District Commander and Deputy GNU Libyan Army Chief of Staff Salaheddin al-Namroush ordered seven brigades to form a battalion for immediate deployment as tensions intensify at the Ras Ajdir border crossing. The units concerned are the 444 Brigade, the 555th Infantry Brigade (Inf Brig) (belonging to Abdul Ghani al-Kikli aka Ghinaywa), the 103rd Inf Brig, the 111th Inf Brig, the 51st Inf Brig, the 52nd Inf Brig and the 62nd Inf Brig. All of these brigades are at least formally subordinate to the GNU’s Libyan Army.

On 24 March, after the release of al-Namroush’s written mobilization order, the GNU’s Defence and Security Council met and dealt primarily with ‘the situation in the Western Coast Military Region and the Western Mountain Military Region, particularly at the Ras Ajdir border crossing’. The meeting, which was chaired by Presidential Council deputies Mousa al-Koni and Abdullah al-Lafi, was attended by Prime Minister Dabaiba, Minister of Interior Emad Trabelsi, Libyan Army Chief of Staff Muhammed al-Haddad, al-Namroush, the Director of the General Intelligence Service Hussein al-Aib and the Director of the Internal Security Agency, Lutfi al-Hariri. Following on from this meeting, an armed GNU-aligned force, acting under the pretext of pursuing criminals, stormed the border crossing on 24 March and fired shots. Three people were wounded.

Security Forces of the Zuwara Municipality then retook the border crossing on behalf of the Municipality. The Municipality released a statement claiming that the “GNU and the MoI in particular bear full responsibility for this systematic chaos, which serves certain regional agendas hidden behind the authority’s structures.” In an effort to calm tensions, the leadership of the Zuwara militias further declared that they are ready to hand over the members of the Law Enforcement Department of the GNU’s General Directorate of Security Operations who were captured on 24 March to Muhammed al-Baroun aka Al-Far as a “neutral force”.

Following the GNU’s loss of the control at the border, MoI Emad Trabelsi has appeared on Libya TV promising to yet again retake the border crossing by force.

On 25 March, the Chair of the Supreme Council of the Amazigh in Libya, al-Hadi Barqiq, has said that if there is no coordination (between the GNU and the Amazigh/Zuwarran authorities) concerning the transfer of GNU troops to Ras Ajdir, there will be war between the Amazigh and the GNU. Barqiq claimed that what has happened in Ras Ajdir over the previous two weeks was ‘a concerted attempt by Zintani and Arab militias to take control of an area that belonged to the Amazigh’.