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An article by Garibov Konstantin
Libya: militia clashes continue

Clashes between members of the Berber ethnic minority and their Arab neighbors in western Libya continued for a third day on Tuesday. Militias from inside Zuwara, a predominantly Berber town on the Mediterranean coast about 120 km west of Libyan capital Tripoli, were exchanging heavy weapons fire with fighters from the nearby Arab settlements of Al-Jumail and Regdalinl.

3 April 2012

An Interior Ministry official told Reuters the confrontation had started on Sunday when a group of Zuwara men hunting for game accidentally shot someone from Al-Jumail.

They were briefly detained, angering people in Zuwara.

In another confrontation that has underlined Libya’s fragility, about 150 people were killed in clashes over the past week between rival tribes in the southern city of Sabha. (Reuters)

Moscow urges end to turmoil in Libya

Moscow has urged an end to the violence in Libya and settlement of differences through a dialogue. Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued such a statement following the severe military clashes between two tribes near the city of Sabha in the south of the country. In those clashes only in recent days about 150 people have been killed and 400 have been wounded.

These are the official data but in reality the number of victims is much higher. Libya has not seen such bloodshed since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. The clashes in Sabha started in late March when the leader of the Tubu tribe and two of his close associated were killed. According to one of the versions, it the revenge for the murder of an Arab from the Uled Suleiman tribe. Another explanation is that the clashes broke out because the leaders of the Tubu and Uled Suleiman tribes failed to share 10 million dinars (about 6 million euros) they received from the central government for strengthening regional security.

The events that followed were taken by the Tubu tribe as ethnic cleansing and even genocide. The tribe’s representatives claim that Arab militants are setting houses of Sabha’s residents on fire, killing women, children and elderly people. The Tubu announced the creation of its own government of South Libya and Fezzan, one of the three historical parts of Libya, declared its autonomy. Earlier Cyrene with the center in Benghazi declared its autonomy enraging Tripoli. According to Sergey Demidenko, an expert with the Institute of Strategic Analysis these are the signs of a civil war.

"Libya is rolling down to total disintegration and collapse. In the future, it may repeat the fate of Somalia, where a war of everyone against everyone is on. Arabs are fighting the Tubu, the Tubu is fighting the Tuaregs and the Tuaregs are fighting the Arabs. Eastern Arabs will be fighting Western Arabs. In the East Islamists and less radical groups of Arab population will fight. Pro-Islamists will counter the elite tribes. The interethnic conflict in Libya in the near future will only worsen and will lead to a situation when the state ceases to exist."

Apart from that, Libya has undoubtedly become the source of instability in the Mediterranean region supplying Islamists, extremists, terrorists to all neighboring countries including European countries.

Meanwhile the conflict between black Arabs and Arabs in south of Libya threatens to grow into a regional conflict. The Tubu tribe has threatened to turn to the tribesman residing in neighboring Chad and Niger. They also plan to explode oil pipelines which will lead to an international conflict because the Western countries count on Libyan oil. The West provided military support to the rebels who overthrew Gaddafi in order to get access to the Libyan oil reserves. In the current situation the oil fields, transportation routes and export terminals are located on territories controlled by different tribes, Evgeny Satanovski, director with the Institute of the Middle East notes.

"Tribes, criminal groups, the leaders of the insurgents who overthrew Gaddafi are the only real force in Libya today. The insurgents’ leaders are trying to divide the territory exactly as it happened in Sudan and Somalia. Considering that Libya posses colossal oil reserves we may expect tribal wars the same we can witness now in Somalia with its reserves of uranium ores and in Sudan and South Sudan which shared oil fields and oil pipelines now cannot agree how to integrate them."

The division of revenues from oil and gas provokes armed clashes between the Tuaregs and Arabs in the area on the border with Algeria. The Tuaregs and the Tubu don’t want to lose the revenues from oil, which under Muammar Gaddafi were at the disposal of all national ethnic minorities of the oil regions.

Garibov Konstantin
The Voice of Russia, April 3, 2012.