A terrifying night in the capital, Tripoli, which witnessed violent clashes with light and medium weapons between competing armed formations, which may open the way for the re-formation of military alliances after the heightened tension that was reinforced by the difference in administrative subordination among these formations.
The clashes that erupted on Friday night and extended until noon at a different pace, the two sides of which were the Stabilization Support Apparatus led by Abdul Ghani Al-Kikli and the 444th Brigade led by Mahmoud Hamza. A central headquarters for the operations of the 444th Brigade Combat, where the attacking forces succeeded in taking temporary control of the camp, taking advantage of the brigade’s exit towards the city of Tarhuna and the departure of the brigade commander to Turkey, in a visit whose reasons were not clear.
This control did not last long as the brigade forces managed to launch an attack and the camp was restored, announcing the killing of one of its officers and the capture of a number of attackers, turning the clashes into hit-and-run battles between the two forces in the entire region of Salah al-Din in south Tripoli, causing a humanitarian crisis for the civilian families neighboring the areas of conflict, which sent a distress call to the Libyan Red Crescent to help evacuate them, amid intermittent exchanges of fire between the two parties.
Reasons for the outbreak of clashes
The commander of the Tripoli military region, Major General Abdul Basit Marwan, defended the recent clashes, which he considered a correction to the deviation of the 444th Brigade, in clear bias and support for the stability support apparatus that led the attack on the brigade’s command camp.
Marwan added, in a video statement posted on Facebook, that the commander of the 444th Battalion Brigade, which is administratively affiliated to the Tripoli Military District, and which does not have an independent financial authority, Mahmoud Hamza opened an account for the brigade and injected 10 million Libyan dinars into it.
A development that breaks, according to observers, the image that Brigade 444 was keen to export as a disciplined military nucleus that respects the hierarchy of command, and its leaders are subject to the orders of the Tripoli Military District since the transfer of its subordination from the Ministry of Interior to the General Staff, and its implementation of armed operations targeting smugglers and human traffickers in the areas extending from Tarhuna to Nesma In the south, where the brigade’s forces are stationed, its rush to the Shwerf area almost led to an armed confrontation with the forces of the General Command, which considers the area a dividing line for the ceasefire.
International anxiety and internal anticipation
UN concern expressed by the UN mission in Libya, which called on everyone to immediately stop hostilities, and called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint, reminding all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian facilities.
The UN mission called on all relevant authorities to assume their responsibilities to ensure the protection of civilians and to exercise control over their units, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular Resolution 2570, and to embark on a comprehensive and detailed process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and security sector reform, with a view to Put all weapons under state control.
An international call backed by the United States, whose embassy tweeted that “the Libyans do not want to see the civil conflict from the past repeated, and that the best hope for stability lies in the elections scheduled for December.”
Calls for calm were renewed by the Presidential Council, which issued a statement in its capacity as a “chief commander,” calling on all forces engaged in the Salah al-Din region; By stopping immediately and returning to their headquarters and barracks without any delay, in which the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Muhammad Al-Haddad, was authorized to take immediate measures against the commanders of those forces that had clashed, and to exercise the powers granted to him by law to achieve control of the situation, instructing the Military Prosecutor to initiate the investigation Immediately with the commanders of those forces, and informing the Chief Commander of the legal measures taken against him, stressing in the same context the need for discipline and adherence to the instructions and communications issued prohibiting movement without prior permission.
Turkey, absent in the clashes
Sources to 218News confirmed that a Turkish drone took off from Mitiga Airport towards the site of the clashes, where it flew for an hour before re-landing at the airport where the Turkish forces in Libya operate their operations room in conjunction with the departure of heavily armed forces affiliated with the deterrence apparatus and the judicial police, which appears to be an attempt to clarify the situation, especially in light of Major General Abdel Basset Marwan’s confirmation of the departure of the commander of the 444th Brigade, Muhammad Hamza, to Turkey, amid press information confirming the existence of protests and restlessness among the Syrian mercenaries present in camps south of Tripoli, which are practically subject to the brigade’s influence as a result of the non-disbursement of their due salaries.
Developments on the ground worry the Turks, who will not be pleased with the state of hostility between military leaders loyal to them, especially in light of what was reported about the visit of Lieutenant-General Muhammad al-Haddad to the headquarters of Brigade 444, which means the formation of a state of polarization and the renewal of alliances within the corridors of the security and military departments in Tripoli, which may result in a radical change in the security and military scene in the capital with the increase in international pressure calling for the expulsion of foreign forces and mercenaries from the country, and Turkey’s procrastination in this regard.
5+5 JMC position
The 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) is the body entrusted with evaluating, structuring, and trying to unify the divided military institution, as it has previously been subjected to a violent media attack by the forces in control and control over the joints of Tripoli and the western region in general, after the statements of the committee that called for determining the nature and subordination of the armed formations in Tripoli, on top of which there are the Stability Support Apparatus and Special Deterrence Force.
Where the issue of subordination is a stumbling block to the unification of the military institution as a result of the armed formations in Tripoli maintaining administrative independence and a special financial edema, keeping them away from the subordination of the Ministries of Interior and the Chief of Staff, the role of the Chief of Staff appears fragile, with the Presidential Council as chief commander having no real influence on the ground.
Therefore, the security scene in Tripoli remains open to several possibilities, with the militants maintaining relations with armed groups outside the capital, whose entry into the battle may lead to an expansion of the cycle of violence and a threat to the already fragile security, in the capital, whose residents have become accustomed to the sounds of bullets and news of clashes.