FROM OUR SEND
TARHOUNA_ I 13 corpses are wrapped in as many white sheets. They found them in the last few days among the fine earth of the so-called “Rabat project”, an area of construction sites on the outskirts of the inhabited neighborhoods. Here is one of the largest mass graves. “We’ve located over 160 bodies there. In all, there are 18 mass graves, scattered throughout the countryside around Tarhouna. We estimate that there were the remains of a thousand people killed between 2013 and 2020. There are still 250 left to appeal, “says Mohammed Kesher, the mayor of this city located about eighty kilometers south of Tripoli, whose cemeteries can be seen as a metaphor for the Libyan drama following the NATO-assisted revolution, which bloodied the regime of Muammar Gaddafi 10 years ago.
We arrived there on Friday morning traveling by car for about an hour and a half. For once, the local authorities were happy to meet the journalists and show their mourning to the cameras. “Here are the corpses of my two cousins, 22-year-old Mabruk and 59-year-old Abdallah. They were murdered in September 2019 “, says among the many Ibrahim Moftah, a 38-year-old engineer, whom we followed first in prayer in the central mosque, then in front of the bodies lined up in the square and finally in the great procession to the cemetery. He, along with many others, takes it out on the “six Kaniat brothers”, blatantly accused of having imposed a regime of terror in order to conquer power and wealth after the fall of the regime. Even the mayor speaks of them as “absolute criminals, ready to ally themselves with the strongest in order to impose their system of domination,” he explains. But the reality seems much more complex. And the microcosm of Tarhouna helps to understand the meanders of contemporary Libya. A situation that the new government of national unity led by will soon have to face in order to try to pacify the country and with it also Europe, with Italy fully involved, now more than ever decided to fully return to the Libyan scenario. The narrative of the cruelties of the Kaniat brothers’ militia is in fact only a screen. «It serves to put the very serious internal divisions under the carpet. We prefer to accuse invisible culprits rather than rekindle the chain of hatred and revenge destined to add chaos to chaos, ”explains 29-year-old Mohammad al Amali, who in turn came to the streets to mourn the death of three cousins and an uncle. All killed in militia battles in recent years. “It is well known that Tarhouna, together with the town of Bani Walid, were strongholds of the Gaddafi regime. At the time of the revolution our young people went to fight against the militias of Benghazi, Misrata and Tripoli. After the defeat of the regime, the militias came to take revenge. The dead were immediately hundreds. The Kaniat first sided with the revolution, then they went back, collected the remains of Gaddafi’s army together with the old loyalist tribes and in 2014 joined the forces of Khalifa Haftar in Cyrenaica “, explains al Amali.
The conflict in Libya: insights
Tarohouna thus became the flag from the recovery of the front opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and the major militias operating between Tripoli and Misurata. But the situation became critical after the failed offensive launched by Haftar in April 2019. He was convinced of winning in a few weeks, thanks also to the Russian, Egyptian and Emirati help. The reaction of the militias, supported by Turkey and Qatar, changed the balance of forces. «The bloodiest night was that of June 4, 2019. The Kaniat massacred the soldiers of Haftar who wanted to retreat, pursued by Turkish drones. Dozens are buried in this same cemetery where we put our loved ones. Then they fled in turn towards Benghazi, killing anyone who tried to stop their escape ”, they say again at the cemetery. Moreover, the “legend” of the Kaniat is no longer able to hide the tensions currently affecting Cyrenaica. Haftar, tired and sick, is losing control of the squares and of his own soldiers, including the hundreds of pro-Gaddafi veterans allied to the Kaniat. This is demonstrated by the murders involving civil society.
Today the 23-year-old Hanina at Barassi was kidnapped (some say even killed on social media) daughter of Hanan al Barassi, a well-known human rights lawyer who was murdered on November 10 in central Benghazi. Both accused Saddam Haftar, the 28-year-old son of Khalifa, of dominating with terror in Cyrenaica thanks to the soldiers of his 106 Brigade. Two days ago Mahmoud Warfalli, former commander of Haftar’s praetorians, was also killed, also accused by the International Tribunal in The Hague of abuses against prisoners. “In Benghazi we are slipping into terrorism as in the days of the assassination of the American ambassador Christopher Stevens in September 2012”, underline among the diplomatic circles in Tripoli. From Tarhouna to Benghazi, the tension remains strong. They will also have to take this into account in Rome, given the intention to reopen the Italian consulate in Benghazi as soon as possible.
March 26, 2021 (change March 26, 2021 | 22:28)