Karlos Zurutuza: “The minorities of Libya”

Zorba with Karlos Zurutuza, journalist

Tunis.-Flag_of_Libya.svg The Basque journalist Karlos Zurutuza, who was just coming back from Libya, delved into the situation of the minorities in Libya. He focused on the Amazighs, the Tuaregs and the Tubus. They are thought to represent around 10% of the Libian population. They have taken sides in the split between the Tripoli and Tobruk governments, although there is not an ideological affinity with any of them. They seem to be trapped between to ideologies they dislike: Arab nationalism and Political Islam. The Amazigh, for example, are Ibadis, so they don’t have any shared identity with the majority.

The example of the Syrian Kurds looms large on the Amazighs. Should they declare an autonomous region? That would be a risky move, since they are afraid that Tobruk and Tripoli governments might unite to suppress their autonomy. So far, the enjoy a de facto autonomy in a country where there is no central government and the tribes and its militias are the ones who control the territory.

Zurutuza also talked about the general situation in Libya, a country that he has visited several times in the last years. He explained that the conflict has nothing to do with a bloody civil war like the one in Syria. There are regular skirmishes between, but not an all out war. He argues that the main obstacle to reach a peace is the high diversity of militias and institutions in each of the two sides, as well as the toxic interference of foreign powers, such as Turkey, Qatar or Egypt.

According to the Basque journalist, Libya is an artificial country and its inhabitants have a primary loyalty to their tribes. He also said that his impression was that, at the time of the civil war, the majority of the population sided with the rebels and against Gaddafi. Although Libya was a wealthy country, people thought they would be better off and freer without Gaddafi. However, because of the security situation, oil money is not flowing like before, and the economy is suffering.

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