State of Emergency in Libyan Capital as More Militia Clashes Break Out

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan declared a 48-hour state of emergency in the capital of Tripoli on Saturday as fresh fighting broke out at Tajoura to the east of the capital. On Friday, unarmed civilian protesters had been attacked with heavy military weapons by Misrata militiamen, leaving 43 dead and some 500 wounded.

At Tajoura, known as the gateway of Tripoli, one protester was killed and dozens were injured on Saturday.

The local city council of Tripoli called for a general strike in both the public and private sectors for 3 days in mourning over the victims of the militia. Non-essential shops and services will close. Already on Saturday many shops were closed and the place looked like a ghost town. Clinics, pharmacies, bakeries and gas stations are exempted from the strike.

The Misrata militia, responsible for Friday’s violence, had lost control of its HQ in Tripoli. But reinforcements slipped in from Misrata Friday night and early Saturday morning, allowing it to reclaim the HQ. Prime Minister Zeidan has called for all non-Tripoli militias to depart by Monday. Misrata was besieged by Muammar Gaddafi’s tanks and artillery for 6 months in 2011, losing many civilian non-combatants to these brutal tactics. Many Libyans on my Twitter feed are asking how the militia could itself now turn heavy weapons on civilians.


[h/t Mosab on Twitter: Unarmed young protester kneels before armed militiamen

Misrata is a vast arms depot, with tanks, rocket propelled grenades and other arms stockpiled in such numbers as to dwarf the armaments of the central government. Much of the equipment was conquered from Gaddafi’s forces, but some was sent during the fighting of 2011 by Qatar.

PM Zeidan said Saturday that Libya is at a crossroads. It seems likely that the transitional government will either lose its nerve or assert itself in the coming week; which it does will be consequential for the future of the country.

France, other NATO countries, and even the US are offering to train Libyan troops and security forces, but so far few such personnel have received practical training abroad.

20 Responses

  1. After the fall of Gaddafi, the first thing the Misratans did was use violence to empty the nearby black town of Tawergha. One of the goals of the Misratans is to prevent the 30,000 Tawerghans from returning to their homes.
    The Berbers are interfering with the oil trade, and the Benghazi crowd wants to secede. Good luck to PM Zeidan.

  2. Many people asking how could militia turn heavy weapons (or for that matter, any weapons) on civilians. That’s because the term militia and rebel is a false one. In fact they are terrorists imported by people like Cameron, fool Hague the FM, and of course, Obama. There is massive financial and material support for these criminals from our proxy war partners in Saudi Arabia who are currently behind the terrorists in the Syria conflict. Many of the terrorists in Syria have come directly from Libya. It seems to me that if one is a genuine rebel having won the day, you would be back in your own Country supporting the government and getting things back to normal. Yes that’s right, NORMAL as it was under Gadaffi.

    • I remember when people in the left frowned on using the term “terrorist” to describe any undesirable political or fighting force.

      Anyway, your insider view, based on your years in Misrata, that allows to know who is from the city and who was ‘imported,’ is most welcome, Mr. Gadhaffi Apologist.

  3. State of emergency in Libya’s capital- Well here is Emergency
    link to youtube.com The vile violence in Libya and the world -it short circuits ability to see big picture of what is happening to Earth and her open systems Large. Earth is in early stage full blown Runaway temp rise.
    -I want to say that, what’s on my mind before reading article because once focused on War I can’t think straight -It hurts.
    - Vietnam. I spoke before crowd on University of Delaware campus at just North of Student Center. The crowd had gathered as vidule while school met with DuPont officials who were threatening to up and pull funding because of War Protests going on there. -Well the outside influences came and set up stage with a mike and they gave it to me likely because they thought I was in ROTC. War disables me.
    Here is what Arctic is doing link to arctic-news.blogspot.com
    I breathed some tear gas.
    War disables a lot of things and the big one is saving Earth.
    War hurts. I know what it feels like and can visualize badly.
    I’m asking my friends in Libya who I tried to help, for Peace

  4. Gee, another problem exacerbated by the whole “more weapons, everywhere, all the time” schtick that just WHO profits from, again?

    And what kind of “training?” Weapons familiarization and marksmanship and sniping techniques? Combat courses in urban warfare? “Crowd control?” The curricula of the “School of the Americas?” Protecting rich and powerful players and their all-important and ever-growing “property?” Surely not squishy crap like “neighborhood policing,” or the elements of building a civil society, or conflict reduction, or overcoming tribal biases in favor of a “general welfare” awareness. Or just bribing warlords to stand down for a while…

    A context sampler, for your delectation and enjoyment:

    link to goang.com

    link to facebook.com

    link to google.com

    There’s lots more out there, by “our” and other government and militaries, and of course it’s a growth industry! like the privatized-prison business, that profits from what, again?

    The pretextual goal is apparently “building a legitimate political structure,” the reality is what, again? A “workable” authoritarian ruler? With all the impacts of arms injections, greedy extractable resource seekers, Players of the Game from far and near, etc., how does one go about the task any more? Since it’s so complex, and starting from a base of repression and aspirations warped by advantage-seekers at all levels?

  5. The fruits of a faux-R2P war…

    Now why did Juan Cole support it in the first place?

  6. It’s the same old people stuff,
    over and over again, since
    the days of bones and rocks.
    Even if only one person is
    is involved, self haters could
    hit themselves in the head
    with a rock.
    After eighty years, I’ll
    “Throw Up My Hands”!
    (Not to Bill, though)

  7. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zaidan’s imposition of a “State of Emergency” is risible on the face of it. States of Emergency and Marshall Law are usually declared by leaders who have the means to enforce them, something the Libyan government has demonstrated time and again it lacks. The Prime Minister sitting in his office in Tripoli with little means to enforce laws and ensure security in much of Tripoli, much less the rest of Libya, appears to be no more in control of Libya than Hamid Karzai appears to be in control of Afghanistan outside of Kabul.

    If things continue along this line, Libya may descend to the level of a failed state like Somalia. The difference would be Somalia, for much of its recent history, lacked much of anything resembling a government in place, while Libya could crash and burn masquerading as a “democracy,” even if that means an impotent regime unable to govern.

    • It’s “martial law”, Bill. Pretty sure it has never been Marshall law. There was a Marshall plan, though.

      • Thanks for the correction, Tinwoman. I obviously was too tired to “marshal” the English language and take it into battle, as was once said of Churchill’s speeches during World War II.

    • while Libya could crash and burn masquerading as a “democracy,”

      The Libyan government isn’t an electoral democracy? You sure about that?

      You seem to have confused the strength of a government with its ideological and organizational basis. If a government is weak it can’t be a democracy?

      • “The Libyan government isn’t an electoral democracy? You sure about that? You seem to have confused the strength of a government with its ideological and organizational basis. If a government is weak it can’t be a democracy?”

        The confusion exists among those who simplistically think that one or two elections define a democracy. A democracy consists of much more than a couple of elections. It is defined by a whole set of institutions such as rule of law, a functioning judicial system, a transparent political process, a reasonable ability to extend the government’s writ to outlying areas of the country, and a whole host of measures that are commonly agreed upon and accepted by both the government and the governed.

        The measure of a democracy has nothing to do with whether a government is, relatively speaking, weak or strong. But a government that cannot even provide security in its capital city and is subject to opponents controlling key cities (or denying government control) is certainly not a “democracy” except in the imagination of those who would avert their eyes from reality. A quick review of Poly Sci 101 might be in order here, not to mention a review of the development of democracies throughout history.

        • By that definition, many might question how the US is characterized. Surely not as a “democracy?” Rule of law, full of faked foreclosures, selective enforcement, private prisons, legislation by bribe, all that? I guess by squinting one could say the judicial system “functions,” since papers get filed and orders and rulings issued, but “justice” not so much… “Transparent political process?” Hmmm… And “our” history of “spreading democracy” sure looks like “we” have spread a lot of other stuff, but not much of that stuff that in its abstraction makes us all puff-chested and weepy…

        • “By that definition, many might question how the US is characterized. Surely not as a “democracy?””

          There is no “perfect” democracy, and the United States certainly is not perfect by any means. Nevertheless, those who question the United States’ democratic credentials demonstrate their willingness (almost glee!) to allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

          On a comparative basis, they also, for the most part, demonstrate that they have not gotten out much and lived in places that really are authoritarian. I doubt that anyone posting on this blog who lives in the US has heard the “Midnight Knock on the Door.” Nor do I imagine anyone launching tirades against the US has been denied the right to vote in elections. If I am wrong, I would be interested in hearing the aggrieved party’s story.

        • Speaking of door knocks, how about Fred Hampton? link to google.com Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s subjects, daring to “look Hispanic?” Freedom Riders, school desegregation/Bull Connor/George Wallace/KKK, Chicago and New York “Red Squads,” the “freedoms” and “rights of citizenship accorded to “Occupy,” our ever-more-militarized-securitized police presence, any number of NO-knock and “whoops, wrong address, kill the dog and shoot the homeowner and then file false reports and retreat behind that Thin Blue Line” episodes and, for honest serious historians, so very much more. It ain’t the “imperfection,” it’s the sickening hypocrisy. And the nominal goal is what, again? Justice, fairness, equality of persons and opportunity and that Rule of Law that is no respecter of persons? A political process at least more transparent than ALEC and CREEP? All to “Promote The General Welfare?” Or did I miss something in Civics and Polysci 101 and US History?

        • @Bill:

          Re the “Midnight Knock at the Door”:

          If you are a minority that lives in the City of Detroit, chances are you have experienced that phenomenon. There have been scads of lawsuits against the City of Detroit Police Department for initiating warrantless “investigatory arrests” against citizens without probable cause during homicide investigations and holding them without legal process until their families retained attorneys to obtain habeas corpus relief from a judge.

          Re: “…….the denial of the right to vote in elections…”

          In the City of Hamtramck(an enclave of Detroit), federal monitors were appointed after Yemeni-American complaints that they were inhibited from casting votes at polling places. The Yemeni-American Political Action Committee (YAPAC) had been successful in getting their nominated candidates elected to public office.

  8. Yeah, “risible.” Meaning “ridiculously laughable.” One wonders if there is a prescription for any actions that might lead to a government with the legitimacy and clout to promote a more general well-being? Maybe another “Competent authoritarian” to instill some “discipline?” “We” apparently are okay with the Afghanistan thing functioning the way it does, with a nice center of opportunity-breeding corruption with a big base and airport in Kabul and a very few “controlled” outlying areas, and warlords and mullahs again running the most of the country in a more “traditional” way, and whoopppee! another record opium harvest!

    What are the elements that distinguish “real democracies,” again? As inchoate and/or arbitrary as the ones that define “the national interest”?

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