Tobruk is a Libyan city on the Mediterranean, famous for its 241-day siege during the Second World War with Allied forces defending it in spite of heavy and continued shelling and bombardment by the Axis forces. Tobruk was vital for the Allied defense of Egypt and the Suez Canal, forcing the Nazis to carry their supplies from the port of Tripoli across 930 miles of desert. Now Tobruk enters history for a second time, as the newly elected members of the Libyan House of Representatives (formerly the General National Congress, or GNC) gather to inaugurate the country's highest legislative body. Initial plans to hold the inauguration in Tripoli on August 4th were scrapped due to heavy fighting.
The New Parliament Will Take Decisive Action
The new parliament is set to take decisive action. First on its agenda will be to withdraw legitimacy from all militias, heretofore well-funded by the GNC, which encouraged their membership to swell to over 200,000 while the army, police and intelligence forces were practically disbanded. Legitimacy will also be pulled from the so-called Libya's Revolutionary Room militia, created by current GNC President Nuri Abu Sahmain a year ago and initially funded to the tune of over $700 million. The Libya's Revolutionary Room was behind the kidnapping of former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan from his hotel room, underscoring its power and arrogance. It was also behind many kidnappings, arrests and torture of opponents of the GNC clique; the Muslim Brotherhood and their more extreme allies, led by Abdulwahab Al-Gayed, a leader of the Islamic Fighting Group whose brother was one of the Al-Qaeda leaders killed by a U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan.
Pulling the fig leaf of legitimacy and financial support from this extremist group will drain their swamp. This explains the recently intensified fighting in Benghazi by Ansar Al-Sharia, declared a terrorist group by the U.S., and starting a still-raging war in Tripoli by their allies in the Misrata-led militias to take over from a rival militia at Tripoli International Airport and other camps in Tripoli. They hoped to take over by force in Libya's two biggest cities to weaken the new parliament and create a fait accompli. But after 20 days of intense fighting, they failed to impose full control over the two cities.
The Handover Ceremony by the GNC to the New Parliament Is a Mere Formality
Despite current GNC President Abu Sahmain's attempts to procrastinate handing over to the new parliament, Abubakr Baera, the oldest member of the new parliament, called for its convening in Tobruk on August 2nd, also ignoring a statement by current GNC spokesperson Omar Hmedan, who claimed that the authority of the GNC continues until the formal handover. Abu Sahmain insisted the handover must be in Tripoli, where fighting has extended beyond the airport to residential areas in the city and severe gasoline shortage has brought traffic and services in the city to a screeching halt. With fire at the main fuel depot, hit by rockets, still raging Thursday night for the fourth day in a row throwing a cloud of dark smoke and dangerous fumes over the city of 2 million, the handover ceremony is a mere protocol issue, not a legal one.
Financial and Travel Sanctions on Obstructive Militia Leaders
The international community must act promptly to get Libya out of a situation that could lead to widespread civil war and the spread of terrorist groups. The UN Security Council should promptly enforce a truce and enact a resolution authorizing financial and travel sanctions on those militia leaders and individuals obstructing the UN-imposed calm.
Destruction and the Human Toll Matters (Not) to the Muslim Brotherhood
"The attack on Tripoli Airport was legitimate because it came as a response to the offensive led by General Khalifa Heftar on the armed Islamist groups in East Libya," said Mohammed Sawan, the leader of the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya in a statement to the Associated Press. Sawan's public acknowledgment of the Muslim Brotherhood's "use all means to gain and maintain power," after bribery and blackmail failed to bring them victory in the recent elections, is finally gaining serious attention in the world's capitals.
Destroying over 80 percent of the Libyan commercial airline fleet, shutting down air traffic completely and causing industry havoc, destroying the Tripoli Oil Depot - creating an environmental catastrophe and crippling oil distribution, forcing over 27,000 Libyans to flee Tripoli in three days, forcing tens of thousands of foreign workers in the oil industry, healthcare and services industries to flee along with almost the entire diplomatic community, creating a humanitarian disaster at the Ras Jadir Tunisian border crossing forcing it to a close - all of this has not passed unnoticed by the world.
The international community has already given its support to the new House of Representatives and to the democratic process derailed by the old GNC and militias.
To the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya: political struggle and pluralism under the rule of law are welcomed in democratic societies. Barbarism is absolutely not. Needless to say, Mohammed Sawan will have a very hard time drafting his next statement for Libyans to pay any attention.