Obviously the Libyans Don’t Want the Money

In that case, don’t give it to them until they stabilise the country. If the factions that represent the new Libya can’t reconcile their differences, the whole exercise has been futile. Treat them like little children squabbling over a toy, they deserve no better.

Libyan scramble for £100bn in assets fractures the peace at Tripoli airport

Militias and army clash over control of runways after UN decides to fly newly printed currency into the capital

Protesters in Benghazi on Friday demand to know the membership of Libya’s National Transitional Council. Photograph: Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

The unfreezing of £100bn in Libyan assets by the UN this weekend has fired the starting gun for a fierce battle for influence being waged by the country’s militias, in which the frontline is set to be Tripoli’s international airport.

The glittering prize immediately in prospect is a consignment of several billion dinars, printed in Germany, which is due to be flown into Libya on board five cargo planes. Whoever controls the airport when the cash arrives will be able to levy a hefty security fee for delivering it to the country’s central bank. But the fight to control the airport is part of a far wider battle for political and economic dominance in the new Libya; one that pits the various factions who united to overthrow the Gaddafi regime against each other, as well as remnants of the dictator’s defeated military.

In theory the decision on Friday by the UN Sanctions Committee and the US to release frozen assets marks, in the words of British foreign secretary William Hague, “another significant moment in Libya’s transition”. Those sentiments were echoed on Saturday by Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, on a visit to Tripoli. But the reality is considerably more complicated.

Tripoli airport is currently held by the militia from Zintan, a mountain town 90 miles to the south, who captured it on the way to liberating Tripoli in August. But the Libyan national army, controlled by Gaddafi-era generals, is determined to take control, in what is shaping up to be a defining power struggle. Meanwhile, amid the growing tension the ruling National Transitional Council has become a target for mass protests across the country and the object of deep suspicion outside its Benghazi power base.

Source: The Guardian Read more

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