Submitted by Richard Galustian…
The deaths in Libya, due to the continuing battle for Tripoli in particular, since Haftar’s Libyan National Army’s (the LNA) assault on the capital, have been mounting per week but are still, in the main, only in the double figures.
Generally those who do not know Libya think that for the past 8 years, since Ghaddafi’s death, it has been a place where there is an ongoing veritable daily blood bath caused by firefights between combatants.
The reality is that that is not true. It is a relatively small ‘slow burning’ civil war.
The biggest killer in Libya occurs on the roads where petrol is cheaper than mineral water, car accidents rank among the deadliest in the entire world.
Disregard for traffic rules, reckless driving, dilapidated roads and cars that fail to meet safety standards combine to make road accidents in Libya much more lethal than incidents involving weapons.
Libya holds the world record for the number of deadly road accidents per capita.
The Libyan traffic department recorded 4,115 road accidents across the country in 2018, killing 2,500 people and injuring more than 3,000 others.
Last year’s road deaths outranked the only hundreds of people killed annually in clashes between rival armed groups since Libya’s 2011 revolt.
Speeding is the number one cause of accidents in Libya, a country of six million people with more than 4.5 million vehicles.
With a litre of petrol, which is subsidised by the government, costing only 0.15 dinars (around 10 US cents), less than the price of a litre of mineral water, gas-guzzlers are all the rage.
Some of Libya’s roads, however, have not been repaired in 60 years, making them totally unsuitable.
Tripoli is home to 2 million inhabitants, however the number of privately owned cars has almost quadrupled in nearly a decade, jumping from 600,000 in 2010 to 2 million this year.
Together with state-owned vehicles, taxis and public transport, the number rises to 3 million in the capital alone.
Car salesmen have also flooded the market with imported cheap vehicles which are mostly used cars and lack basic safety measures such as seatbelts or airbags.
In a bid to fight back, the authorities in February passed a law banning the import of cars older than 10 years.
Though it is potentially possible that Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli could raise the number of deaths considerably, many other Libyan observers believe it is not in Libyan’s DNA to ‘fight to the death’.
That infers no disrespect to the nation or its people, quite the contrary. They just are not bloodthirsty when compared, for example, to the people of the Balkans, Turkey or Afghanistan.
Libyan’s are not naturally, to their credit, a war-like people by nature, inheriting many of the qualities of their Italian conquerors.
Historically of course there have been very notable exceptions, like the great Omar al-Mukhtar who was born in 1858 and died in 1931. He was called ‘The Lion of the Desert’ and was the leader of resistance against Italian occupation in Cyrenaica (currently called Eastern Libya).
An iconic symbol of resistance for the Arab and Islamic world, from 1911, he led a nearly twenty year resistance movement against colonialism. After many attempts, the Italian Armed Forces finally managed to capture him and hanged him in 1931.
But today the surprising little known reality is that it is cars and not bullets that kill more people in Libya, a fact that should bring a clearer perspective and understanding of the incorrectly described ‘heavy fighting’ alleged to have occurred between the civil warring factions.
What has changed relatively recently in Libya’s civil war has been the military tactics of both sides. This is a result of the escalation in supply to both sides of drones (as well not forgetting the use of foreign mercenaries). Broadly speaking on the one hand Turkey (and Qatar) have been supplying drones to Tripoli’s UN appointed ‘GNA Government’ – with an almost proportional number of drones, almost as if by design to ensure parity and a military stalemate – being supplied from the UAE, made in the Emirates, to Haftar’s LNA. If by design, then I leave it to the reader to deduce which superpower could be behind it?
Think always Cui bono!