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article imageOp-Ed: A clear-cut reminder of Libya's tribal divisions

By Paul Iddon     May 2, 2013 in Politics
Today as Libyan militias brandish their weapons in clear defiance of the Tripoli government we are reminded of the salient tribal divide that exists in the North African country.
Libyan militants using their own stockpiles of weaponry deployed fighters to Tripoli whereby they laid siege to the justice ministry and the foreign ministry. They have declared that they will not lift the siege unless the General National Congress, the central government in Libya, adopts a bill which will see to the purging of former officials of Colonel Gaddafi's brutal regime.
A militiaman was quoted as saying that, "A delegation representing the government of [Libya's incumbent Prime Minister] Ali Zeidan came to meet us on Wednesday and asked us to lift the sieges but we refused. We will continue blocking the ministries of foreign affairs and justice until our demands are completely satisfied."
This quite aptly, in my view, shows the ready degree to which groups in Libya of various political and tribal ilks will resort to potentially violent stand offs in order to ensure that their interests are secure. Many in Tripoli openly protested the move by this particular group of gunmen saying that public and governmental institutions should be respected and not subverted through the threat of force and armed confrontation. The gunmen taking this action serve to show us how many tribal groups are dissatisfied with the government and see it as merely another illegitimate and unrepresentative entity. In essence because, in their stated view, some members of this government previously served under Gaddafi during the lengthy rule of his regime and retain their positions of power.
When Gaddafi was ousted back in 2011 the ragtag rebels who led the campaign against his regime came from different tribal divisions across the country. Many, including this humble observer, speculated that any future central government in Libya would be of a trivial nature or even weak and of little importance, like the Lebanese government down through the decades. Or, in the worst case scenario the country essentially divided amongst tribal lines. Various rebel groups refusing to relinquish their arms to the central government that came into being after Gaddafi's aforementioned reign was of no surprise.
The General National Congress in question has been debating and reviewing laws that could be implemented in order to remove many who served in the government during the days of Gaddafi from the positions of power which they currently hold. This is to a latent degree similar to the manner in which the United States-led coalition in Iraq opted to disband the Iraqi military and subsequently strip former Baathists, many of whom had no real allegiances to Saddam Hussein but nonetheless joined the party to further their careers and life prospects, of their careers and positions of power.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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