The Address | Benghazi – Libya
TRIPOLI – The Misrati forces fighting the Libyan National Army (LNA) are preparing to smuggle the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) out of Tripoli to their home city in the event that they are routed, said Africa Intelligence, exclusive news website on Africa.
This fall-back plan could cause serious tensions, however, with their allies in Tripoli. As fighting rages in the capital’s southern suburbs, notably around the International airport, activities of a completely different kind are under way at the CBL.
“According to our banking sources, preparations have been in progress for several weeks for the transfer to Misrata of the computer servers which contain the CBL’s ultra-secret internal data. The transfer itself has not yet taken place, however,” Africa Intelligence said.
Although the Misratis are already in a commanding position in the government in Tripoli via Fathi Bachagha, who, since April 15, has been wearing the double hat of minister of defense and minister of the interior, the different factions in Tripoli will not easily give up control of the CBL with its governor Al Seddik Omar Al Kabir, the website noted out.
The CBL represents the financial heart of Libya and is highly strategic. It receives and redistributes the revenues of the National Oil Corp (NOC) and authorizes the letters of credit which are necessary for the purchase of the country’s imports. It is also the repository of the financial secrets great and small of the country’s businessmen, politicians and militia leaders.
The bank’s transfer to Misrata would, therefore, profoundly modify the balance of power in the capital, giving Misrata the advantage at a time when rivalry between the different Tripoli and Misrata factions is greater than ever, according to Africa Intelligence.
The transfer could not be envisaged without prior negotiations with Abderraouf Kara’s Rada militia, now the Unit for the Prevention of Organised Crime and Terrorism. This militia has a powerful hold over the CBL, where several of its members figure in the administration. And it is Rada which controls the district in which the bank’s head office is situated, as well as the Mitiga airport and high security prison, it added.
Rada has nevertheless put itself under the orders of Tripoli’s Misrati prosecutor general Sid- diq Al Sour. The latter had started a clean-up of the financial institutions ( MC 1329), one of the targets of which was Al Seddik Omar al Kabir. Al Sour was preparing a list of charges to be brought against him.
Misrata’s plans to smuggle the CBL out of Tripoli to the city-state risks aggravating the split between the Misrati and Tripolitanian forces fighting in the capital against LNA.
The militias in the capital, which opened their doors to Fayez Sarraj’s government of national accord (GNA) in 2016, are refusing to give up control of the state institutions, where they are infiltrating the administrative services under the pretext of ensuring their safety.
On the ground, the tensions between Tripolitanian and Misrati forces is becoming increasingly palpable. Since the Misrati forces moved into the front line in early May, they have been accused of monopolizing the military equipment received by the GNA, notably from Turkey.
The Misrati forces fear, therefore, that their local allies will defect. The political positions of several of the militias, whose leaders are not all of the same mind, are unstable. This is the case with the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade (TRB) commanded by Haithem Tajouri, which risks splitting up, particularly since Tajouri’s departure into exile in Tunis has damaged his troops’ morale. The Rada force is staying cautiously neutral but could also switch loyalties to LNA, according to Africa Intelligence.