First Published: 2012-10-13

 

Save Bani Walid to Save Libya

 

While mediation efforts are still going on, it’s the last chance for the GNC to act wisely and correct itself by first annual its notorious decision and immediately activate the long overdue national reconciliation process, insists Mustafa Fetouri.

 

Middle East Online

The siege of Bani Walid, 180 km, south west of Tripoli has been in place for nearly two weeks now. It was publically authorized, encouraged and approved by Libya’s newly elected General National Conference GNC. Reports from inside the city speak of increasingly depleted supplies of food, water, and other necessities. Sporadic indiscriminate rocket bombardments are daily routine especially round the east of the city. Al-Mardoum valley, the closest to the front line have so been under daily fire killing five civilians and injuring a dozen so far. Libyan rights groups joined hands their international counterparts in condemning the siege calling on the Libyan authority to lift it immediately. Amnesty International in particular has been at the forefront of calls to lift the siege and allow supplies to enter the city as well as free movement of people into and out of the Bani Walid.

Home to Libya’s largest tribe Bani Walid has been the safest cities in Libya since the war ended last October. The local population attribute this to the fact that no militias are able to enter the city from outside and only its own people volunteered to protect it. They are organized in local defense committees in charge of daily security, checkpoints on the outskirts of the city. Having seen what the revolutionary brigades have done to their houses, farm land, and other personal properties when then entered the city last October local were determined not to let any armed individuals to enter their city again.

The rocky mountainous city is long accused of harboring remnants of the previous regime fighters and protecting its supporters. however, the fact is that the majority of people in Bani Walid do not want any militias amongst them at the same time they are welcoming any security forces under the control of the government. They weeks ago they were called upon by the GNC to hand over couple of suspects which the local social council of the city refused to do unless there is proper judiciary system and proper government procedures. It cited the kidnapping of over a hundred Warffalis civilians currently in jail center in Misrata and Tripoli controlled by rogue militias. They challenged the government to bring those back home if it really can. Of course nothing has happened over the last year or so meaning that the interim government lacks the means and the authority to control the country let alone disarm the militias still operating freely. The prompted GNC to issue its legally disputed decree number 7 authorizing the novice Libyan army to use all necessary means to control the city. By doing so GNC not only over stepped its mandate but also committed the hideous crime of publically calling for war against part of the Libyan population in what could well be “officially” authorized tribal cleansing.

The bulk of the besieging forces came from Misrata with its long and deeply rooted hatred of Bani Walid. At the same time almost all other revolutionary brigades except the parts of the Islamist have either withdrawn their fighters or refused to take part in the siege considering it as illegal and unnecessary bloodshed against he entire population of Bani Walid.

While mediation efforts are still going on it’s the last chance for the GNC to act wisely and correct itself by first annual its notorious decision and immediately activate the long overdue national reconciliation process. By doing so it will not only save Bani Walid but kick start the process of saving Libya as whole. Bani Walid now represents the last ditch Libyans must peacefully bridge if they are ever to see peaceful and democratic Libya emerge after the long bloodshed and chaos that has been the order of the day for nearly two years now.

Bani Walid today represents hope for the rest of Libya. It provided a good example in terms of self governance, security and self management of the daily lives of its inhabitants some of whom came to the city seeking security they lacked elsewhere in Libya. It also symbolizes refusal of one tribe dominance of the country under any circumstances. Those who are leading the war efforts against Bani Walid are motivated by vengeance and hatred but managed to portrait the situation as a national cause for while tricking GNC to intervene in legally and tribally complicated situation with dire consequences for the rest of the country.

The siege must be lifted immediately and national effective government should be approved as soon as possible. All jail centers must banded over to the government and GNC should quickly start drafting the constitution which is its only task in the first place. Yet Bani Walid will not be subdued by force unless at a very heavy price of destruction and bloodshed that could further push Libya into more of the same: chaos and sufferings.

Mustafa Fetouri is an independent Libyan Academic and journalist. Winner of EU’s Samir Kassir award for the freedom of the press in 2010.

 

Rouhani seizes opportunity to get closer to Qatar

New crown prince widely welcomed in Saudi Arabia

Banned Bahraini newspaper fires staff

Iraq forces battle deep into devastated Old Mosul

Prime time for Ramadan on Gulf fashion calendar

Mali activists call for referendum to be abandoned

Iraqi forces control two thirds of Mosul Old City

Assad leads Eid prayers in Syria’s Hama

Lone-wolf attacks raise concern about new trend in terror

Erdogan slams Saudi demands of Qatar as illegal

Sudan making 'positive' steps on meeting US sanctions terms

Mecca suicide bombing injures six

Gulf crisis heats up as Qatar receives list of demands

Suicide attacks kill at least three people in Mosul

Civilians killed in Iraq suicide bomb attacks

UN warns Yemen cholera outbreak could infect 300,000 by September

Putin launches deep-water phase of TurkStream pipeline

Berlin warns Ankara against meddling in religious affairs

Asian states downplay 'Russia proposal' to send troops to Syria

Iran’s Salehi urges West to save historic nuclear deal

Iran, allies mark Jerusalem Day with rallies

US-led Syria strikes kill 472 civilians in one month

Morocco dismantles 'IS-linked cell plotting tourist attacks'

France sets out tough new anti-terror law

Russia warships, submarine strike IS targets in Syria

Trump-Saudi ties help pave way for new Saudi crown prince

Makeshift clinic saves lives near Syria’s Raqa

Egyptian fuel helps restart Gaza power station

Rights groups say Morocco protest leader 'severely beaten' during arrest

5 killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack

UN experts urge Egypt to halt executions after 'flawed trials'

Qatar emir congratulates newly-appointed Saudi crown prince

Kushner hails 'productive' Palestine-Israel talks

Macron says removing Assad no longer priority in Syria

Turkey sends first aid ship to isolated ally Qatar

Iraq PM says IS admitting defeat in Mosul

Egypt delivers fuel to ease Gaza electricity shortage

Saudi Arabia named after ruling dynasty

Turkey detains catering boss after army food poisoning

Israel says will unleash 'unimaginable power' in future Lebanon war

Brussels nail bomber identified as Moroccan

Saudi stock market bullish on new heir

Lebanon's Salame to be new UN Libya envoy

New Saudi heir is king's agent of change

Turkish President accused of influencing courts