By Sami Zaptia.
London, 18 December 2018:
Four main Tripoli militias announced their amalgamation today into a new Tripoli Protection Force (TPF).
The militias are: The Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigade (TRB); Abusleem Deterence and Rapid Intervention Force; the Nawasi 8th Force; and the Bab Tajura brigade.
The news of the amalgamation came after a meeting was held in Tripoli’s port (Shaab section) earlier today.
The outcome of the meeting was announced by TRB in a statement posted on their official Facebook page. The statement was not signed and did not have the customery colourful stamps of each militia.
The TRB statement said that the amalgamation was as a result of the recent manoeuvres by other military forces (Hafter’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Tarhuna 7th Infantry Kani brigade) in the western region.
The amalgamation came about as a result of Tripoli’s desire to settle political matters through dialogue, whereas these other forces, which the TRB statement did not mention by name, wish to enter Tripoli and want to use force to settle political issues, the statement said.
The TRB said that the four militias have amalgamated under the internationally recognized Faiez Serraj-led Presidency Council and Government of National Accord.
The main role of the new TPF will be to protect Tripoli and help state institutions to perform their tasks.
It will cooperate in securing existing diplomatic missions as well as helping other missions to return to the capital. It will also help in implementing the state’s anti-corruption efforts.
The statement declared its support for the UNSMIL-led National Conference (Multaqa) planned for early 2019 and welcomed its holding in Tripoli.
The statement rejected the use of force as a means to achieving political aims and called for an end to the country’s political division.
In an ironic swipe at Khalifa Hafter and his LNA, the statement by Tripoli’s militias rejected the “concentration of Libya’s military institutions into one individual” and the use of the military to dominate politics.
The statement also called for the reactivation of the national reconciliation efforts and it’s work to offer a national amnesty.
It called for an end to external interference in Libya’s internal affairs and called for the creation of the right environment for holding elections.
And in conclusion and with huge irony, the Tripoli Militias statement claimed that it did not follow any political ideology or any particular political stream.
It must be stressed that at the time of publishing none of the other mentioned militias had confirmed this joint statement. The Faiez Serraj Government had made no comment either.
Hence it is not clear how valid this TRB statement is.
It is not clear if this is further window dressing by Tripoli’s militias to cling on to power.
It could be a reaction to the Presidency Council/UNSMIL’s pressure to implement its new Security Arrangements.
These were announced after the Zawia ceasefire announced to end the August September south Tripoli militia fighting. This fighting took place between the Tarhuna-based 7th Infantry Kani Brigade and the main Tripoli-based militias.
The Kani 7th Infantry Brigade wanted to change the power status quo in Tripoli which it felt was totally monopolized by the Tripoli militias – to the exclusion of all other militias.
It is also unclear if this move is part of Fathi Bashagha’s (Serraj’s new Interior Minister) efforts to wrestle control away from Tripoli’s dominant militias.
The cynical view is that the militia announcement is no more than yet another attempt by them to extend their existence in face of domestic and international pressure to yield power to the state.
The militia statement makes no reference to their demilitarization, demobilization or reintegration into a unified army along the lines of the talks currently taking place in Cairo.
Time will soon tell if Tripoli’s main militias have any serious intention of falling under the authority of the Tripoli government.