The Germany-based Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) warns of a further destabilization of post-Qaddafi Libya. “Libya is threatened by a Berber revolt,” said the STP’s Africa expert, Ulrich Delius. “The country’s new leadership is not prepared to honor the help of the Berber militias during the overthrow the Qaddafi regime by recognizing the basic rights of the non-Arab minority. Libya is about to fall back into times as bad as during the Qaddafi regime, if there is no end to the general arabization and racism against non-Arabs.” This month has seen scattered skirmishes between Berber and Arab militias and the nascent national army.
A particularly dramatic incident took place on Dec. 11 at the airport in Tripoli. A motorcade of the influential army chief Gen. Khalifa Hiftar broke through a Berber road block. At least two were killed in the ensuing 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 past weekend, there were also armed confrontations south of Tripoli where the Berber-led militia from Zintan battled members of the El-Mashasha clan who were mostly followers of Qaddafi, leaving four dead.
The non-Arab indigenous people, who call themselves Masire (Amazigh)—not Berbers—accuse Libya’s National Transitional Council of continuing Qaddafi’s arabization policy and of ignoring the Berbers, who contributed significantly to the overthrow of the dictator. It was the Masire from the mountain range Jebel Nefoussa west of Tripoli who led the western offensive against Tripoli. Masire militias were also of great importance in the struggle for the cities of Misrata, Zouara and Zintan.
Although the Masire make up approximately 10% of the population, they were not taken into account in forming a new government. During the struggle against Qaddafi, several now members of the new government had already accused the Masire of being anti-Arabic or Israel-supporters. So far, the new rulers of Libya are not willing to accept the Masire language to be equal with Arabic. (STP, Dec. 13)