Just days following the official announcement of the appointment of Zintan military brigade leader, Osama Al-Juwali, as Libya's new interim government defense minister, Zintanis have flaunted their new power. Zintan militia detained al-Juwali's rival, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, military commander of Tripoli, at Tripoli airport, in a clear demonstration of growing enmity between the rival factions in former rebel brigades.
According to Feb. 17. info
Belhadj was detained for one hour at Tripoli airport because of an out of date passport, Zintan milia explained. They did not release information on Belhadj's travel plans. Another rival Zintan militia leader, Abdullah Naker, has openly opposed any role for Belhadj in the new interim government, though it was reported by Digital Journal
that Belhadj turned down the role of defense minister before it was offered to Al-Juwali.
Naker opposes the inclusion of extreme Islamists into the new government and despite Belhadj's claims to favor moderate sharia in Libya there are many factions that fail to be convinced he has espoused his al-Qaeda connections. His name is increasingly linked to illegal arms and money shipments from Qatar.
Even from his prison in Zintan, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi sent out a warning call
to fellow Libyans regarding the treachrous nature of Belhadj. The assertion of power over Belhadj, no matter how brief, is likely to further fuel tensions between rival milita brigades that are intent on a power struggle in the increasingly disjointed former rebel ranks. A dangerous game is being played out which almost certainly guarantees more blood shed.