Tripoli (AsiaNews) - The future of Libya is in jeopardy because of insecurity, divisions, in-fighting and armed clashes between rebels and pro-Gaddafi loyalists. Against this background, Libyans are set to go to the polls on Saturday to elect a 200-member constituent assembly tasked with drafting the country's first democratic constitution since the fall of the old regime. However, sources tell AsiaNews that the country is in full civil war and blame NATO for clashes and violence among rival factions.
"In various parts of Libya fighting continues despite media silence," the sources said. In fact, NATO never left the country. "Three weeks ago, NATO planes carried out air strikes in two feuding cities, Zintan and Mashasha," the sources noted. The former was a rebel stronghold during the anti-Gaddafi war and was supported by NATO. The latter is home to nomadic people, originally from Niger, and was built by Gaddafi to settle permanently desert communities. Its residents backed the Libyan strongman when he attacked Zintan.
"After the fall of the dictator, Zintan began revenge attacks against Mashasha, which responded by shelling its nemesis," sources said. "In order to end the violence, NATO hit both cities, killing a number of people. The alliance said that it bombed its ally, Zintan, by mistake. All the while, media stood silent."
NATO interference in factional divisions, the large number of weapons and the total lack of leadership in the country are increasing the chances of a new civil war as factions vie for power ahead of 7 July elections. "In a country where Gaddafi concentrated power for more than 40 years, his fall has opened the floodgates. Now it is a free-for-all grab for power and support in an atmosphere of insecurity and anarchy."
In Benghazi, more than 300 people stormed an election office, burning ballots and other election material in order to demand more polling stations.
"The National Transition Council is not in control of the country," the sources noted. "Each city wants autonomy to control its own resources and deal with multinationals. Such is the outcome of a costly humanitarian war carried out with the blessing of the United Nations."
The main sign of hope is the defeat of the Islamist front, main advocate of the war against Gaddafi. At present, Libyans are trying to marginalise it.
"In recent months, Muslim extremists have tried everything to gain power and earn support, presenting themselves as an alternative to the regime, especially in view of the results in Tunisia's and Egypt's elections." However, they have been thwarted by a desire of the Libyan people for change and modernity. After supporting them in the early stages of the war, Libyans are now aware of their backward anti-modern views and have started fighting them. They are tired of being used and want real change in the country." (S.C.)