By Konstantin Garibov
Libya’s oil-rich east has declared autonomy in what many experts say poses a new challenge to the country’s fragile cohesion after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
This is how Boris Dolgov, an expert with the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow, comments on the recent decision by tribal leaders and militia commanders in Cyrenaica to declare a semi-autonomous region in the oil-rich eastern Libya. The process of disintegration is already on and will continue in the coming months. The National Transitional Council does not really control the situation the country where Cyrenaica is not the only region to enjoy de facto independence.
Yevgeny Satanovsky of the Institute of the Middle East, another Moscow-based think tank, says that Benghazians have long been looking for control over the oil terminals in the east. Some tribes control the terminals on the coast, while others – the inland oil rigs. And there are clans that strike unions along the oil pipelines to ensure their only means of income…
In this sense things is Libya are developing much in the same way they once did in Somalia and Afghanistan. And, to a certain degree in Yemen, which is equally being driven apart by inter-clan strife. Only recently a group of militants attacked an army barracks in the country’s southern Abyan province killing 190 government troops. Many in Russia and the West believe that al Qaida had a hand in all this and the improvised Victory Parade with captured heavy weapons and POWs its militants held right after the attack adds additional weight to this assumption.
Making use of the central government’s loosening grip on the country, Al-Qaeda cemented its clout in southern and eastern Yemen. The very latest attack came shortly after the country’s new president Abbd Rabbu Mansour Hadi pledged to keep fighting the terrorists. Al-Qaeda, for its part, showed who really is calling the shots in the strife-torn Arab nation. Just as the newly elected head of state was being sworn in the militants blew up his palace in el- Mukalla in the country’s southeast, killing 25 soldiers.
Al-Qaeda militants are fighting on the opposition’s side in Syria and this is the reality more and more western analysts are now waking up to. Says Sergei Demidenko, an expert at the Institute of Strategic Assessments and Analysis in Moscow.
“It looks like this fact came as a bit of surprise to many of my colleagues in the West… There is one thing we need to keep in mind – the Syrian opposition is not homogeneous – there are radicals and moderates there. These secular moderates have been at the negotiation table for quite some time now ready to negotiate with the government on the basis of a roadmap, proposed by President Bashar Assad. These people will fight to the bitter end, either their or Assad’s, using Saudi money and help from Al-Qaeda…”
Fighting resumed Friday in Homs, and thousands of anti-Assad protesters rallied across the country after Friday’s prayer.
Meanwhile, the government managed to agree with the UN on the makeup of a joint mission to be sent down to assess the situation in areas where people desperately need help.