Ayoub Elbarrani: “Islamic State is a threat to Europe through Libya”


Interview with Ayoub Elbarrani about recent events in Libya. Bulgarian version of this article is published in Actualno.com.  

Who wants what in Libya? We hear many news, but generally there is an “eclipse” in Europe about what is really happening on the ground. Two coalitions want more influence – is that the simplest explanation of the situation?

What’s going on in Libya is more complicated than the simple description “two coalitions fighting for influence”. The understanding of the current situation needs to go back 6 years before the “political change in 2011”, when there were three parties leading Libya and they are : The project “Libya Tomorrow”, Green Party, Muslim Brotherhood & Liberal party. After the Arab spring begun in Libya, the two parties (Liberal & Muslim Brotherhood) ride the wave of change against the Green party which was leading the security systems such as, Libyan armed forces, Intelligence agency, National security council, and then the flowers of the Arab spring became bombs & missiles launched from NATO and revolutionaries to destroy the security systems of Libya. After Gaddafi regime has gone, all parties created their own militias to protect their advantages and benefits.

The Parties were arming their militias since more than 3 years now, and after the political change. Each party is connected to wide network inside and outside Libya. All of them agreed on moving Libyan money from the official bank accounts to their own bank accounts, by the help of international Mafia, and some countries, such as Turkey which receive the smuggled money in their airports.

It’s important to understand the political map of Libya at the current situation. The “Fajr Libya coalition” which is created by the unit of political parties, armed militias, and ISIS, but ISIS lately dissented from “Fajr Libya”. While both of them still don’t believe in democracy and civil state, the both are fighting against Libyan army forces, Fajr libya and ISIS are in control of the area from Tunisia borders up to the city of Surt in North, and some cities in South, also Derna city which is completely occupied by ISIS. Fajr Libya was using ISIS and other extremist groups against their main political opponent, but ISIS had got out of Fajr Libya control and started to target Fajr forces in the West of Libya.

In the other side we have “Al Karama coalition”, that started as a military movement against ISIS and extremist’s groups, under command of General Khalifa Haftar, inside Benghazi city. Then it had got the political cover and support from the “House of Representatives” which is recognized by the international community and its present location is in Tobruk city.

The expired “General National Congress” which still occupies Tripoli by using armed militias, is leaded and supported by “Fajr libya coalition” where around 30 members are meeting, from the total number 200 members.

The members of the “House of Representatives” are meeting by almost all of the total members, approximately 170 of 200 members.

“Fajr Libya coalition” has started the armed operations in Tripoli when the elections results for “House of Representatives” were not suitable for some political parties, so these parties, has created “Fajr Libya coalition” as a reaction of the elections lost.

What is the role of General Haftar? Some analysts said that he is the man who holds the “key to peace in Libya.” Do you agree with this definition?

Not exactly, but he was between the first officers who raise the slogan of fighting terrorism in Libya, and now he’s legally nominated by the House of Representatives as the general leader of Libyan army forces. The international community must support the official foundations not the persons, so in my opinion, no one have the key of peace except the Libyans themselves, who are struggling for peace, democracy, freedom, human rights, and civil state. Even the power of General Khalifa Haftar has been obtained by the Libyans.

What role can have Europe in today’s situation in Libya?

European union is supporting the “House of Representatives” and peace building in Libya. EU is confidante and relying on the Peace talks managed by the United nations. They are in hope and expect to be able to create a “National Unity Government”, which

could guarantee some security steps, like retreating the armed militias from Tripoli, and ceasefire in all battlefields.

Mrs. Federica Mogherini had met with the Libyan municipalities in order to support the political track of getting agreement between the Libyans, and to support providing of the services to all civilians.

EU is still dealing moderate with the Libyan crises, but it’s already 4 years without any solution in Libya. The fact that causes real danger on Libya and Europe, like money washing, terrorism, weapons trading, and illegal immigration. So it’s the time for making hard choices. EU should take a decision against those, whose destroyed Libya and ruined the peaceful life.

May be only for companies extracting oil nothing is change. For example, Italy – the positions of Italian companies are the same like before. Or this is wrong?

The “Oil companies” are contracting with “National Oil Corporation”. They are working when the security situation allows work, but the extremists now are targeting the oil fields. Unfortunately, the oil fields has been burned and stopped. The Oil companies can’t work as before without putting the end of terrorism over the whole territory of Libya. Peace is the base of any investments and business activities.

Italy has “Eni Gas & Petrol” Co. working in Libya. It’s an important company which is feeding Europe by natural gas, and their exporting lines still working fine, except several stops that had happened.

Bulgaria had strong links with Libya. Do you think that in the future, these links can be renewed?

It’s time for Bulgaria to have wider cooperation with Libya. We need everything,  like medical stuff, military equipment, buildings, experts and professionals. We, also by our side could provide a lot of investment opportunities .

The mutual cooperation is still not meeting our hopes to build strong relations between the two countries.

We hope that Bulgaria will make contact with our government and the municipalities in order to study the possibilities of investments and the future cooperation

Do you think the Islamic State is a danger to Libya or exaggerating their power in North Africa? Many Europeans fear that the Islamic state would pass Mediterranean towards Italy.

1.6 Billion of Muslims are all rejecting terrorism and extremism. The terrorist state was existing even 4 years ago in Libya, under observation of NATO and Libyan authorities in 2011.  Unfortunately, the International community was watching how the air bridges of fighters are going and coming from Libya to Iraq and Syria through Turkey, without any reactions or comments. Even the Libyan side during the time of the expired (General National Congress), was hiding the truths and used to send a wrong picture about the real situation inside Libya. Now, we all are facing this horrible disaster – Libyans, Europeans and North Africans. But I would like to calm everybody. We’re going forward to end this nightmare. We will fight it, even just by stones and swords. it’s our country and that’s our fate to fight ISIS and extremism which arrived to Libya from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries. They found a suitable country for them, but not anymore. We support our Army Forces and their operations in Benghazi and Derna in order to end this disaster, to get back Libya in peace again, and to protect North Africa region and the Mediterranean countries.

What is the attitude of other factions to the Islamic state?

ISIS has declared war on the all of the Libyans, so all the factions agreed to fight ISIS, except (Fajr Libya)which is still supporting the extremists in Benghazi on 800 km away from them (Misurata), in order to use extremists against their main political opponent.

Although, lately “Fajr Libya” had clashes with ISIS in Surt city, which is located on 250 km from Misurata. And this was in result of ISIS targeting the fighters and some locations of Fajr Libya.

ISIS and Fajr Libya have the same strategic target –  to destroy the Libyan Army forces. Whilst it’s still possible to have peaceful solution with Fajr Libya by dialog, so far there’s no chance to make any successful dialog with ISIS.

It seemed to forget about the real thing, when an Islamic State has come. The focus of the media is away from the real problems of Libya after the revolution.

Peace is coming before the bread. War and the terrorist’s crimes have damaged the infrastructures. Many of the students didn’t go to schools because nothing is safe. Now, the first problem is the terrorism, then “Fajr Libya coalition” which didn’t accept the results of the elections. Without these disasters, we can think in solving the other problems. If you ask anyone from Libya about his dreams, he will answer “I hope for stop of the war and to get peaceful life again”.

When we talk about Libya, we must to mention Senussi and King Idris. Many foreigners do not know anything about the period before Gaddafi. And I think this is an important part of the history of Libya reflected to all. Is there memory in people for Senussi?

Libya before 1st Sep 1969, was leaded by king Idris Senussi. It was a classic state. Everything was calm, without any enmities with other countries. After the uprising against King Idris, the policy of whole state has been changed to follow Jamal Abdulnaser in Egypt and getting involved into war in lot of places all over the world. Because Libya was managed by 12 officers from the Armed forces, so it was normal that the Army officers will think only for wars, not in development. By the way, the first 10 years after the uprising, were good years for Libyans, because they got some positive projects and developments.

What analysts outside miss when they analyzed Libya? Is the peace possible in Libya or Arab states without dictatorships? I ask you this because many people in Europe are skeptical and they think MENA region is good only under rule of authoritarianism.

That’s a wrong concept. MENA region is looking forward for democracy and freedom, but we can’t build the bases of the civil state, without using the force. For example, when the demonstrations happened in Greece, what the country did? The police and security units have moved to arrest the protesters to end the demonstrations while many of their claims were legitimated. The same happened in France, and in Wall street New York USA, Spain, and UK and in many other countries.

MENA region countries also want to impose security, to allow democracy and freedom to make it available for their people.

Libyan Army has been fighting beside of Gaddafi regime, so NATO has destroyed the Army and left without building any Army to protect Libya, except the armed militias that are linked and supported by the political parties, and the extremists who were fighting with the rebels and now fighting with ISIS.

Imagine that France was without Army, so how many times “Charlie Hebdo” can be repeated? How you can live with armed groups who do not believe in democracy and freedom?!

Libyans are looking forward for the civil state, and will not accept the dictatorship. The support for our army doesn’t mean that we get back military regime. We are just the same as any other people. We should have an army to protect our country.

Ayoub Elbarrani, is a writer & researcher on Libya & MENA region, Web developer, & Media producer. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Intidar`s editorial policy.