by Mahmoud Darwesh, Nawas Derraji
TRIPOLI, March 9 (Xinhua) -- The continuous violence in southern Libya between rival tribes is fuelled by foreign intervention seeking domination in the oil-rich region, analysts said.
Ali Mesbah, head of the Higher Council of Fezzan (southern region) tribes, refers to foreign intervention as the most significant factor that contributes to the unrest of southern Libya, particularly the oasis city of Sabha.
"There is an international struggle for influence in the south, where Western and Arab countries seek to establish a foothold in the important region, which has serious implications for Libya's national security," Mesbah told Xinhua.
For instance, according to Hamed Al-Khiali, head of the municipal council of Sabha, the local airport in Sabha was occupied by "an armed group that has nothing to do with Libya, carrying flags of African countries."
The Higher Council of Fezzan tribes, which consists of southern tribal elders and leaders, is the social umbrella that handles social and tribal peace reconciliation agreements between the cities of southern Libya.
Recent tribal clashes in Sabha, some 800 km southwest of the capital Tripoli, have killed 10 civilians and injured 30 others, according to local hospitals.
But efforts are being made to strike a cease-fire in the Libyan city.
A delegation of southern tribes are preparing to meet with the fighting parties once they agree to stop clashes, Mesbah said.
There will likely be a cease-fire within the next 24 hours if everything goes according to arrangements, he added.
For Ismail Sharif, a lawmaker in the eastern-based parliament House of Representatives, the ongoing conflict has been fed in recent years for "suspicious purposes" as it has no historical background.
"The south is an active arena for settling accounts between regional and international parties. Certain countries are trying to transfer their problems and failure of their governments by feeding the conflict in the south," Sharif told Xinhua.
The conflicting parties in Libya have been used to serve the different purposes of international forces "because of the lack of trust among the social components," he noted.
When asked about the suspected escalation between Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and army commander Khalifa Haftar, the lawmaker ruled out any potential clash between them.
"There could be a gesture to unify the armed forces, and the evidence is the progress achieved by the Cairo meetings on the unification of the army," Sharif explained, adding that Sabha could be the first city in the south where the two parties will cooperate to establish security.
The UN-backed government recently announced a series of measures to support its forces in Sabha to fight what it called "mercenaries."
Before that, Haftar's armed forces had launched a military campaign for "preserving security in the south" by sending military reinforcements to Brak Shati area near Sabha.
On Thursday, the army ordered nationals from neighboring African countries in southern Libya to leave before March 17, warning they would be removed by force after the deadline.
Concerns about a military escalation in the south cannot be ignored, which could be linked to intentions to disrupt the upcoming elections, said political analyst Abdullah Al-Rayes.
"It is no secret that there are foreign parties cooperating with Libya at home that seek to thwart the elections and end the transitional period to harm the social fabric of Libya and push the country to the brink of bankruptcy and poverty," Al-Rayes told Xinhua.
"Some parties are trying to abort the democratic maturity that is expected to take the Libyans to a new stage of state-building, economic reform and army-building," he added.
The UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame has proposed an action plan to end Libya's political division, which includes holding parliamentary and presidential elections by the end of 2018.
The Higher Commission of Elections recently said more than 2.4 million people have registered for the upcoming elections, which is more than 50 percent of eligible voters in the country.