MILITARY COMMANDERS JOCKY FOR POWER IN TRIPOLI
A military commander from Misurata, Salem Juha, has just been appointed Defence Minister by the Libyan Interim National Council. However, reports coming from Tripoli in the last few days suggest that he has a difficult job on his hands, despite the suggestion that he is acceptable to the Islamists amongst the many Libyan militia commanders.
Abdul Hakim Belhadj, who heads the Tripoli Military Council, is warning of potential conflict amongst armed groups which have stayed in Tripoli. Belhadj, a sometime member of the Libyan Islamist Fighting Group which Gaddafi suppressed in the 1990s, is widely quoted as saying: ‘We need to end the presence of heavy weapons and keep them from proliferating, except among authorized parties’ – by which he means his own Tripoli Military Council. He may have a problem.
At a recent news conference in Tripoli a militia commander, Abdullah Ahmed Naker, claimed to have 22,000 armed men at its disposal as he announced the formation of a Tripoli Revolutionist Council. He asserted that his forces are already in control of 75 per cent of the capital and that Belhadj can only call on 2,000 armed supporters. Clearly Salem Juha, and the Interim National Council, needs to assert control in Tripoli.
5th October 2011