By Sami Zaptia.
London, 25 September 2018:
There is a lull in the Tripoli militia fighting as two of the fighting militias bring their battle to some sort of conclusion.
The Abu Sleem Force, a militia led by Abdelghani al-Kikli, aka Ghnewa, aligned to the Faiez Serraj Presidency Council and Government of National Accord (PC/GNA) has claimed it has successfully forced the Salah Badi Somoud militia out of the Naqliya barracks in south Tripoli.
Ghnewa says Badi’s Somoud were forced further south of Tripoli towards Tripoli’s former International Airport in the Gaser Ben Ghasheer region. It is not clear if Badi is regrouping for a counter attack.
Both Salah Badi from Misrata and Ghnewa from the Abu Sleem district of Tripoli, were both named by UNSMIL in a statement on 20 September calling on them to respect the Zawia ceasefire and stop fighting in residential areas.
Speaking to Libyan media, Salah Badi seems to have confirmed the events, but with a different narrative.
Badi said that after withstanding an attack for 48 hours, his forces had run out of ammunition and were forced to withdraw in order to save lives.
Observers confirm that Badi, unlike in the 2014 Tripoli militia coup, was unable to attract enough support from other militias that shared his politics nor from his city of Misrata. This despite threats by some militias to join him.
It is believed that the international community put immense pressure on the city of Misrata not to let its militias be drawn into the Tripoli battle. They were urged not to break the UNSMIL-brokered Zawia ceasefire by supporting Badi either with weapons or with fighters.
This witholding of further support was further galvanized by Sunday’s joint declaration by Misrata, Tripoli Central, Tajura, and Abu Sleem Local Councils.
This called for the immediate end to fighting and respect for the Zawia ceasefire. It called for the organised implementation of the new Tripoli Security Arrangements. It also called for dialogue and the continuation of economic reforms.
It seems Badi was left isolated. Moreover, the Tripoli militias hàd more to lose and to an extent were fighting an existentialist battle. They were also fighting on home ground with shorter supply lines and more ammunition.
It would be too early to presume that the lull in fighting is an end to the Tripoli militia war. If the status quo remains as it is with the same Tripoli militias controlling Tripoli politics and having access to financial benefits, the fighting could reignite at any time.
The end of fighting in Salah al-Deen / Khallat al-Furjan has enabled the Tripoli authorities to reopen the main road, removing soil mounds and makeshift barricades. Considerable damage to property was visible.