Libyans use Twitter to condemn formation of new government-sponsored military unit
Forces loyal to the GNA walk in Sirte (Stringer/AFP)
Libyans have taken to Twitter to express their discontent after a meeting of international representatives in Tunisia offered its support to the formation of a “Presidential Guard” in Libya.
The Presidential Guard is a recently-founded military unit loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity. This UN-backed government was formed in 2015 as a “unity government” to bring Libya’s warring factions together. However, it has not successfully done so, and the country remains divided between rival parliaments and armed groups.
Yesterday’s summit was attended, among others, by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Presidential Council (which runs the GNA), Ahmed Maiteeq and the head of the United Nations Support Mission in the country, Martin Kobler.
They discussed international support for this new security force, which will be deployed to protect official institutions in the capital, before being circulated to other districts, particularly for border security.
Kobler said after the meeting that “recent events in Tripoli demand support for the role of the Presidential Guard”, emphasizing that this force “is not a separate entity, but rather follows the leadership of the Libyan Army”
Maiteeq claimed in a statement that “support for the Presidential Guard does not mean disregarding the role of the army and the police, as all of the security forces will work as a whole unit in order to support and establish security in Libya.”
However, many Libyans have taken a much more negative view towards the Presidential Guard.
Some have suggested that the armed group is little more than another militia with Islamist leanings, and with Qatari support, and a UN blessing.
The cartoon reads: “The army and the police will protect you during the day, and Daesh and al-Qaeda will protect you at night”
You cannot erase your wrongs [when] you’re still walking on the same path.
Others have condemned international meddling in Libya's affairs:
الدول الغربية اللي تدعم تشكيل #الحرس_الرئاسي هل لديهم مثل هذا الجهاز في دولهم ؟— Lieutenant Abdullah (@ali823281) December 13, 2016
The western countries who support the formation of the Presidential Guard, do they have something like this in their countries?
#الحرس_الرئاسي مشروع حرب أهلية برعاية دولية ..— noman benotman (@nbenotman) December 13, 2016
The Presidential Guard: A civil war project under international guardianship
#الحرس_الرئاسي مشروع امبريالي تكلمت عليه السفيرة الامريكية السابقة ديبورا جونز عدة مرات ولاقى رفض من الشعب الليبي وكل النخب الوطنية في ليبيا— مقدام (@EEElchapo) December 13, 2016
An imperialist project, the former US ambassador Deborah Jones talked about it several times, and it received the condemnation of the Libyan people and all of the national Libyan elites.
#الحرس_الرئاسي عبارة عن بقايا ميليشيات فجر ليبيا بعد أن تم هزيمتهم في معارك 2015/2014 و أنكسرت شوكتهم و أصبحوا يتسولون دعم دول الناتو .— noman benotman (@nbenotman) December 13, 2016
The Presidential Guard is an expression of the continuance of Libya Dawn after its defeats in 2014/2015, when its power was broken, and it has begun to beg for the support of the NATO countries.
The Presidential Guard is yet another armed group among the dizzying array of players in the struggle for power in Libya. With rival parliaments in Tripoli and Tobruk, and Islamist and anti-Islamist militias battling it out in various cities, the situation in the country is as complex as it is unstable. Time will tell what dynamic the controversial, internationally-backed Presidential Guard adds to this mix.