The current military activities of different rebel groups reply on geographic and ideological aspects divided between Tripoli, Benghazi and Fezzan as well as political Islam or separatist and nationalist ideas.

Tripoli region includes the following groups:

  • Suwwar Libya (Revolutionaries of Libya aka Libya Revolutionaries Joint Operations Room (LROR)) regards a strong alliance of insurgents who participated in the rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi regime. They are very influential in the Libyan capital and cooperate with Islamists. They are also participated in kidnapping of the former Prime Minister Ali Zaidan.
  • Kataib Zintan (Al-Zintan Revolutionaries' Military Council (ZMC)) is active in tribal mountainous region in the southwest of the countries. The Brigade participated in liberation of Tripoli and arrested Gaddafi’s son Sayf al-Islam. The group is believed to support the former Minister Ali Zaidan and general Khalifa Haftar. The Kataib Zintan also controls the international airport in Tripoli.
  • Kataib Misrata (Misrata Brigades (MUR)) The most powerful organization in the West of the country, which played an essential role during Gaddafi military offensive against revolutionaries and fights in Tripoli. Besides, it supports local politicians from Misrata.

Video: 2013 The leaders of a movement for self-rule in oil-rich eastern Libyan unilaterally announced Thursday the formation of a shadow government, the latest challenge to the weakened central authority.  The announcement came several months after the movement, backed by some militias and local tribes, declared the eastern half of Libya to be an autonomous state, named Barqa, claiming broad self-rule powers and control over resources.

Eastern regions of Benghazi region includes the following groups:

  • Al-Saiqa Brigade is a special military formation of 3 thousand persons separated from Gaddafi’s regime during the uprising. The group is fighting with jihadist insurgents and it is supposed to create new formations in the Libyan army after Gaddafi. Al-Saiqa also supports the current offensive of the general Haftar.
  • Liwa 319 (District 319) or Shuhada 17 Fabrayal (Martyrs of 17 February Brigade)- the Brigade supports the Muslim Brotherhood structures in Libya. Officially, the group is a member of the Libyan military forces but the fighters reserve their independence and separatism. For example, they refused to follow orders of the central military commandment regarding abandonment of their sieges in Benghazi.
  • Rif Allah Sahati Brigade under the leadership of Ismail al-Salabi the brother of the influential theologian Ali al-Salabi from the International Union of Muslim Ulama from Qatar. The Brigade is also affiliated with the worldwide structures of the Muslim Brotherhood. Besides, it is criticized by general Haftar.
  • Ansar al-Sharia in Libya (ASL) – a jihad group based on the region of Darna in the East. The group denies its relations with Al-Qaida’s structures, although declaration of the Department of the State. Ansar is continuing violent fights with Al-Saiqa Brigade.
  • Tahkim al-Din Group (The rule of religion) – a new jihadist organization affiliated with Al-Qaida structures operating in Benghazi. The group is responsible for different terrorist attacks, especially against Al-Saiqa Brigade.
  • Barqa Region Brigades include separatist insurgents from Barqa, Tubruk or Sirt fighting for federalization of the country. The importance of the group relies on control of 60% of oil reservoirs in Libya. The rebels also control main ports exporting oil supplies to the West and they are supporting general Haftar.

Video:  2014 Fierce clashes in southern Libya between tribes, government forces and former loyalists of Muammar Gaddafi have killed at least 86 people. At least 128 people were wounded in the violence in which a hospital was shelled, Abdullah Wahida, the head of Sabha Hospital added.  Clashes were sparked by a revenge attack by African-origin Tabu tribesmen against a militia commander of the Arab Awlad Sulieman tribe.  Sabha was one of Gaddafi's traditional strongholds and was the last city to fall to rebels who fought an eight-month civil war against his forces in 2011.

Southern region of Fezzan includes influential tribes such as: 

  • Tabu tribes from Chad origins declared their independence and separatism. They also condemned central government in Tripoli for humiliation and discrimination.
  • Tuaregs living in Ghat region in the Algerian borders supported Gaddafi during the uprising.
  • Arab tribes continue violent fights with Tabu tribes because of tribal differences.
  • Gaddafa tribes comprise the Muammar Gaddafi family operations. It supported some attacks against the central government after the collapse of the regime.

Conclusion

The present rebel activities in Libya concerns different political forces based on moderate political Islam such as Suwwar Libya (Revolutionaries of Libya) Liwa 319 (District 319) or Shuhada 17 Fabrayal (Martyrdoms of 17th February), Rif Allah Sahati Brigade affiliated with Muslim Botherhood structures as well as groups declaring jihad such as Ansar al-Sharia and Tahkim al-Din Group (The rule of religion). However, the jihadists are in the minority comparing to other brigades and militias. 

Besides, there are influential military militias supporting the present offensive conducted by general Haftar. It regards Kataib Zintan, Al-Saiqa Brigade or Barqa Region.

The Libyan rebellion also includes some separatist and automic tendencies declared by southern tribes as well as secularist and federal ideas underlined by military groups supporting general Haftar as well. 

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About the Contributor

Martin Styszynski

Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. Main fields of reserach: Arabic rhetoric, religious rhetoric, media language, PR and...