Thursday, September 9, 2021

Flight or Fight? Civil Disobedience Takes on Militias in Tripoli


What does Lufthansa have to do with the Tripoli Local Council? Not much, at least not until November 17. That’s when the decision of the latter to launch a three-day general strike prompted the former to cancel its flights to the Libyan capital. As a spokesperson for Lufthansa put it: “We have cancelled flights until the 25 November, due to the General Strike announcements.”

Using Recorded Future, we can see such seemingly disparate pieces of information come together in the same visualization. The below view provides context around these events, as well as highlighting the root cause for the general strike in the first place.


Click the image above for an interactive view.

And why the general strike? That’s the response the Tripoli Local Council called for and saw through following a protest-turned-bloodbath in the city’s Gharghour district on Friday, November 15. That demonstration called for the withdrawal of all militias from Tripoli, which, since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, has been more an area of turf warfare than a stable city secured by state forces. It’s clear that the city’s denizens want the armed groups gone for good.

As the below visualization shows, these calls are nothing new. Just the past year alone is full of acts of violence carried out by militias, prompting civil action from the locals. Perhaps none are as high profile as the kidnapping of the country’s Prime Minisiter, Ali Zeidan, on October 10. Yet given the magnitude of the previous week’s violence – and subsequent movements from both militia and state forces – there appears to be more weight behind these most recent calls for the militias to go.


Click the image above for an interactive view.

The effect of the general strike speaks to this point. While reports indicate that it was well kept across the city, some armed groups (including the Misrata militia) withdrew, and the country’s military rolled in, the goal of the strike was not met – the complete withdrawal of armed groups from the city.

It is for this reason Sadat al-Badri, the President of thee Tripoli Local Council, has called not only for additional protests on Friday, November 22, but also for a continuation of the strike. If observed by the Tripolitan populace, it might be a while longer before Lufthansa resumes its daily flight to the Libyan capital.