The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) warns about a further destabilization in Libya. "Libya is threatened by a Berber revolt," said the STP`s Africa-expert, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Tuesday. "The country`s new leadership is not prepared to honor the help of the Berber militias during the overthrow the Gaddafi regime by recognizing the basic rights of the non-Arab minority. Libya is about to fall back into times as bad as during the Gaddafi regime, if there is no end to the general arabization and racism against non-Arabs. "Since the end of November 2011, there are more and more public protests of the Berbers against the transitional government of Libya. At least six people died last weekend during a clash between Berbers and the National Libyan army and Arab militias.
A particularly dramatic incident took place on December 11 at the airport in the capital Tripoli. A motorcade of the influential army chief General Khalifa Hiftar broke through a road block of Berber militias who are guarding the airport since August. At least two people were killed during the following exchange of fire. "The army is playing down the incident - but the confrontation shows that the Berber militias are not prepared to accept the army`s supremacy," said Delius.
This weekend, there were also armed confrontations 190 km south of Tripoli where the Berber-dominated militia from the city of Zintan fought against members of the El Mashasha clan who were mostly followers of dictator Gaddafi. Four people were killed during the fighting.
The non-Arab indigenous people, who call themselves Masire - not Berbers - accuse Libya`s National Transitional Council of continuing Gaddafi`s arabization policy and of ignoring the Berbers, although they contributed significantly to the overthrow of the tyrant. It was the Masire from the mountain range Jebel Nefoussa west of Tripoli who played an important role in taking over the capital city that was controlled by Gaddafi. The Masire militias were also of great importance during the struggle for the cities of Misrata, Zouara and Zintan.
Although the Masire make up approximately ten percent of the population, they were not taken into account in forming a new government. During the struggle for freedom, several members of the new government had already accused the Masire of being anti-Arab, or Israel supporters. So far, the new rulers of Libya are not willing to accept the Masire language to be of equal value as Arabic.
Ulrich Delius can be reached at:
+49 (0)551 49906-27.
Translated by Robert Kurth