The recent assassination of Salah Al-Qatrani, a Libyan activist, marks the 201st political assassination in the country since 2017 and the first of 2018.
Al-Qatrani, the director of the Educational Services Bureau of El Biar, was attacked by an armed group on 4 January 2018 and died in later in hospital.
Libyan politicians warned of the escalation of political assassinations, stressing that this will affect the political reform process and potentially the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
2017: A Year of Assassinations
Recent prominent incidents include the attempted assassination of Commander Faraj al-Barassi in Khalifa Haftar’s army, the attempted assassination of Salah Huwaidi, the assassinations of Wanis Bukhamada, Colonel Razeq Sadeq Amish, the Security Director of Gharyan and the kidnapping and killing of the Mayor of Misurata Municipality Mohammed Ashtiwi.
Foiling the elections
The MP in Tobruk Parliament, Saleh Hashem Ismail, recently warned of the re-emergence of what he called the era of “political assassinations.” He added: “We have concerns about the renewal of this scenario which effects are still haunting our memory.”
In a press statement, Ismail said: “There exist internal and external parties who fear the fulfilment of the political agreement.”
He continued: “We are close to reaching a political settlement that will enable us to hold elections in the country next year. This is resisted by some parties.”
In the end of December last year, Haftar announced that he is for the idea of holding elections in Libya. However, he stipulated that he would accept the results of these elections only if they are not fraudulent. Otherwise, his mandate for the presidency of the country would remain a possible option.
Ibrahim Belgacem, political analyst and director of the Libyan Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, said that the security authorities have arrested the murderer of Al-Qatrani.
As for the assassinations in Libya, Belgacem added that there is a significant escalation of violence that is aimed at creating a state of chaos.
He pointed a finger at those who want to sabotage the political electoral process and hinder elections before they start, stressing that “those who are involved are groups and personalities who had received funding from some countries, such as “Qatar and Turkey” in the form of direct and indirect support, whether through the so-called support of the State of Libya and its authorities or through what is known as the support and funding of the organizations that are considered to be part of extremist Islamic groups.”
He continued: “All this was monitored through meetings that brought together officials from Qatar with figures attributed to the Libyan Islamic organizations in Tunisia and Turkey, or through official correspondences of the State of Libya from the aforementioned countries.