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Tripoli on a hot tin

Tripoli: Renewed clashes

Arrest of Mahmoud Hamza, commander of the 444th Combat Brigade


Various media sources reported yesterday afternoon, 14-8-2023 AD, The news of the arrest of Colonel “Mahmoud Hamza”, commander of the 444th Combat Brigade of the General Staff, headed by the “Mohammed Al-Haddad” team, At Mitiga Airport in the capital, Tripoli, by the Deterrent Service to Combat Terrorism and Organized Crime, Headed by “Abdul Raouf Karah”, It is an organ of the Presidential Council.

Informed sources said that the arrest took place during the direction of Colonel “Mahmoud Hamza” accompanied by both the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity and Minister of Defense “Abdul Hamid Dabaiba”, And the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General “Mohammed Al-Haddad”, To the city of Misurata to attend the graduation ceremony of a new batch of Misurata Air Academy students, It is noteworthy that the reason for the arrest was not officially announced at the time.

This arrest as a reaction from the 444th Brigade resulted in clashes between him and the Deterrence Service and the Operations Force of the Judicial Police, headed by Osama Njeim. In the areas of South Tripoli – such as Ain Zara, Al-Farnaj, Al-Shawk Road, Al-Sidra and Salah Al-Din -, It resulted in deaths and injuries.

Some demonstrations have taken place on the road against the deterrence apparatus demanding the release of “Mahmoud Hamza”, Despite the attempts of the elders and notables of the Friday market area to intervene by mediation to release “Hamza”, To avoid bloodshed, However, these attempts did not yield any positive results, The frequency of congestion and tension increased, Between the deterrence apparatus and the operational force of the judicial police on the one hand, and the 444th Brigade on the other hand, The two sides exchanged raids on headquarters, resulting in the killing and detainees on both sides.

It is worth mentioning here Colonel Mahmoud Hamza, before the formation of the 444th Combat Brigade, was commander of the 20th-20th Division of the Special Deterrence Force, as well as the commander of operations in the judicial police, Osama Njeim, was affiliated with the same force and a colleague of armed formation.

In this framework
, The capital witnessed the movement of armed columns belonging to the 111th Brigade, headed by “Abdul Salam Zubi”, With the aim of deployment, which allows the forces to be effective at the level of defense or engagement, or as an attempt to contain the situation by intervening between the engaged forces.

Despite prior expectations of the possibility of armed confrontations between the Deterrence Service and the 444th Brigade, due to the expansion of influence, The theater of operations of the 444th Brigade expanded in various areas of the south of the capital, And its success in forming an effective local and international network of relations, As well as the level of acceptance of the operations carried out by the brigade battalions and companies among the community on a large scale in Libya, From raids to drug dens and irregular migration, and the level of discipline of the brigade members, As well as his intervention on several occasions as a third party to break up armed clashes that were taking place between military forces inside Tripoli, Perhaps the most prominent of them is the one that occurred during the attempt to enter “Fathi Labashagha” to Tripoli after being appointed Prime Minister by the House of Representatives.

However, it was not expected that the reason for these clashes was the arrest of the brigade commander personally. This leaves us with an important question, ” What is the real reason for the arrest ??” ، ” Who issued the arrest warrants?” Despite the high risk of this operation, which may cause open clashes that spread horizontally and cannot be easily controlled, It may be exploited by local parties to change the balance of power in favor of political and military parties, the most important of which is Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. In a complex and fragile local and regional security situation.

It is worth noting
, that these clashes are the sixth in the era of the Government of National Unity, However, no press release was issued by any political, security or military official affiliated with the Presidential Council headed by “Mohammed Al-Menfi”, or the Government of National Unity, at least at the time of writing this briefing, in order to inform the public opinion of the current situation, its causes and the mechanism for containing and dealing with it, And whether investigations will be conducted to hold accountable those responsible for this security chaos.


It should be noted here that, These events reaffirmed that the armed formations in the west of the country, With different names and dependencies, Not subject to the chain of command and control of the sovereign institutions of the state – except in the item of salaries and grants – not those that follow the Supreme Commander of the Libyan Army, Representative on the Presidential Council, Nor those that follow

The Ministry of Defense, whose portfolio is carried by the Prime Minister himself, “Abdul Hamid Dabaiba”, Nor to the Chief of the General Staff, Which is headed by the team “Mohammed Al-Haddad”.

This certainly embarrasses the political and security actors in western Libya, And even international actors who consider their intervention in Libya to be in the interest of the Libyans, This intervention has effectively contributed to creating a state of stability in Libya – according to what is announced – especially since the 444th Brigade was supervised by the Turks in terms of organization, training and even armament.

All logical indicators indicate that these clashes will not be allowed to continue and will not be prolonged, For local and international factors. Hamza’s release, whose status is not yet known, is expected to be confirmed.

, That the delay of the deterrence apparatus in releasing or announcing the fate of Hamza, In the end, it will lead to an alliance of all parties that consider deterrence to be a force that poses a great challenge for them, Hence, declaring war on the apparatus and weakening it is only a matter of time, That is, unless it is declared dissolved – knowing that there are many.

Hands down The deterrence apparatus at the level of commanders and individuals is facing a state of unprecedented pressure, Because of the catastrophic situation for them, If the commander of the 444th Brigade, Mahmoud Hamza, is harmed, he may lose his life. The credible allies of the Deterrence Service are not so numerous that they bet on holding out in clashes that may have a wider sphere of influence and consequences that we believe will not be in the interest of the SDS.

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