Mauro Indelicato
Now there is only apparent calm in Tripoli . The Libyan capital, however, is dealing with physical injuries to which the inhabitants themselves, despite eleven years of real political and military anarchy, were no longer used to. 

The clashes that took place between Friday and Saturday left 32 victims on the field and caused considerable material damage in various districts. 

The schools have reopened in the last few hours, the situation has almost returned to normal, but destroyed buildings, burnt car carcasses and facades blackened by fires are there to witness the state of real war in which Tripoli has lived in the last weekend .

The clashes involved militias close to the government of Abdul Hamid Ddeibah , recognized by the UN, and those close to Fathi Bashaga , premier recognized by the parliament based in Tobruck. 

The first ones prevailed, with Ddeibah also taking a selfie in the clash areas as a sign of strength. But what will happen now is an unknown. The risk is the definitive end of the dialogue between the parties. 

Certainly not a positive circumstance for Italy. Our country appears increasingly helpless in the Libyan context, unable to intervene in situations that could harm our interests, starting with oil and the control of migratory flows.

The Tripoli clashes

On Friday, several vehicles were spotted marching from Misrata to the Libyan capital. These were mainly pickups with machine guns positioned on board, the vehicles most used in any self-respecting Middle Eastern conflict. 

When the alarm went off, the countdown began in Tripoli before hearing the first gunshots. Traveling to the city were militias loyal to Fathi Bashaga, the head of a government voted by parliament in February but not recognized by the international community. 

As reconstructed by AgenziaNova , the premier appointed by the House of Representatives probably wanted to try a coup. Obviously triggering the counterpart’s reaction. Bashaga, a bit like the general Khalifa Haftar in April 2019 hoped for the support of militias inside Tripoli able to open the doors of the Libyan capital to their military forces.

In reality, the Rada , the defense force controlled by the Ministry of the Interior and headed by Abdel Raouf Kara , sided with Ddeibah along with other local militias. 

The result was an urban guerrilla that lasted several hours and ended only on Saturday afternoon. Heavy gunshots were fired, while some sources also spoke of the use of drones by militias close to Ddeibah capable of hitting the Bashaga militiamen. 

The two main protagonists reprimand the accusations. The premier recognized by the UN has obviously blamed the counterpart, guilty of having sent militias to Tripoli and of having put some fighters into action inside the capital. 

For his part, Bashaga has instead pointed the finger at Ddeibah. Reported by the newspaper Al Wasat , the prime minister of the government wanted by the parliament accused the rival of having armed many militias and having created armed groups whose task is to crush all opposition. Sources close to Bashaga then stressed that they opened fire in “defense” and were not in favor of the use of violence.

Either way, Ddeibah’s militias prevailed. The price paid was very high, including massive damage to Tripoli and at least 32 confirmed victims. Bashaga’s pickups have taken a step backwards, marking the end of a mini-civil conflict entirely internal to the west of Libya. 

This is precisely the novelty: this time there was not a war between the east and the west of the country, but a violent diatribe between two premieres both from Misrata.

Copasir alarms

Now we need to see what will happen in the future. 

The defeat of some militias and the strengthening of others could have contributed to establishing a new balance in Tripoli capable of at least maintaining an apparent calm for the next few weeks. However, there is no doubt that last week’s episode is not destined to remain without political consequences. 

Ddeibah came out strengthened, Bashaga defeated. 

The first spoke, among other things, of external interference. For many analysts, the reference is above all to France, Russia and Egypt, supporters (albeit only in an “unofficial” way) of Bashaga. 

Three actors who could have more problems in Libya, in favor of a Turkey that, on the contrary, would have helped Ddeibah massively, albeit (also in this case) not in an official way.

In any case, Libya is facing yet another period of serious destabilization and stalemate in the negotiations for the formation of a true constitution and the proclamation of new elections. An element in contrast with Italian interests. 

Rome has everything to lose with a further destabilization of the Libyan situation. Without reliable interlocutors, dossiers on immigration and energy resources could remain pending. 

A circumstance already partially foreseen in recent days by Copasir, the parliamentary committee for monitoring the secret services. 

“The permanent conflict and the likely growth of Russian influence conveyed by the strengthening of Haftar – reads a report approved on August 19 – do not at the moment allow us to record positive progress on the path towards stabilization of the country, which would be of importance decisive for Italian interests, both with reference to the management of migratory flows and from the point of view of the supply of energy resources “.

Copasir therefore pointed the finger above all on Russia.

Russia’s commitment in Libya remains very intense – in fact, a passage of the report reads – due to the presence of the militias of the Wagner group in Cyrenaica controlled by General Haftar”. 

From Tripoli, diplomatic sources have announced that, with regard to the clashes, more than Russia, the suspicions are concentrated on Egypt. 

Certainly, with Italy relegated to the second row, regardless of the real protagonists of the new Libyan escalation, Rome risks not enjoying the ideal position to defend its interests. And this could mean, among other things, a greater powerlessness in countering the illegal migratory flow that has its starting point in the Libyan coasts.


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