The Christian Science Monitor quotes Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Karim Mezran on how the ongoing battle between rival militias in Libya affects the country’s democratic aspirations:
The violence is most likely a calculated attempt at politics by other means, says Karim Mezran at the Atlantic Council, a think-tank in Washington. Libya’s political landscape has polarized sharply in recent months between Islamists who have dominated the interim parliament and their non-Islamist rivals. Militias have broadly lined up behind each of the camps.
Libya’s armed groups have pulled back from the brink many times. But this time the high stakes and sheer momentum suggest that only foreign mediation can restore order, says Mr. Mezran. “It is highly probable that, absent some form of international intervention, these clashes [will] escalate into an all-out armed confrontation.”
The proximate trigger for the surge in fighting is the apparent poor performance of Islamist politicians in June 25 elections for a new interim parliament, says Mezran. The new body is supposed to sit on Aug. 4. Attacks by Islamist-aligned militias, including the Misrata militia battling the Zintan militia for control of the airport, are probably intended to force a political settlement, he says.
“[The Islamist-leaning camp] is trying to force the political process to stop so that they can negotiate the outcome,” says Mezran, adding that non-Islamists also bear responsibility for the crisis by having backed Mr. Haftar.