Other – 14 June 2014

Jul 14, 2014 | Other Jihadi Actors

The long expected showdown between Misratan and Zintani forces in Tripoli appears to have kicked off. Islamist brigades are lining up behind the Misratans in a bid to push the Zintanis out of key strategic redoubts (i.e. the airport). The confrontation began when Misratan forces, including the powerful Central Libya Shield, moved hundreds of military vehicles into the capital as part of a bid to take control of Mitiga and Tripoli International Airports (TIA). The Misratans are insisting that this move is in line with General National Congress (GNC) President Nuri Abu Sahmain’s recent call for revolutionaries to come to protect the capital, and with GNC Decision 33, entrusting the security of Libya’s towns to revolutionary forces and the army. The Misratans claim that their bid to take over these strategic sites in Tripoli is part of the state’s effort to protect the city.

The Zintanis view the situation differently, seeing this move by the Misratans as a major attack by their long-time rivals, who are also supported by a host of Islamist brigades from Zawiyya, Tajoura, Janzour and parts of Tripoli. These Islamist brigades, along with the Misratans, are also accusing the Zintani brigades of being made up of former members of the 32nd Brigade that was run by Khamis Qadhafi. The Central Libya Shield and the Zintanis held a meeting on 12 July in an attempt to diffuse the situation, with the attending parties agreeing to form a committee to investigate rumours of various Zintanis being linked to the 32nd Brigade. They also reportedly agreed that the Zintani brigades would withdraw from TIA, and that a joint committee would take over control of the facility until the new House of Representatives took office. However, on 13 July a number of attacks were launched against TIA. The fighting intensified during the following day, killing six people and injuring 35. The fighting forced the closure of the airport, which is expected to last until 17 July.

The Foreign Ministry is still under siege by gunmen possibly linked to the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR). The group is demanding the expulsion of Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulaziz and a group of diplomats with ties to the Qadhafi regime. Following complaints from a number of Western embassies, the government has decided to relocate the ministry to another building in the capital as a temporary measure.

Another spate of bank robberies has occurred, including an attack on a vehicle transporting money for the Sirte branch of the National Commerce Bank. The robbers managed to take one million dinars when the vehicle was stopped at a false checkpoint. The attack prompted the closure of all commercial banks in Sirte. Additionally, armed robbers stole 1.7 million dinars from the Wadi Shatti branch of the Al-Jumuhouria Bank.