Libyan crisis expanded: Toubou people fear “ethnic cleansing”

Arab and Toubou fighters clash in southern city of Sabha, 70 people dead · Local lead says they will ask for an “international intervention” in order to create a Toubou state is the situation is not addressed · Eastern Cyrenaica had previously asked for a federal Libya

After the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, the new leaders of the National Transitional Council (CNT) - while they work to draft a new Constitution and free elections- are failing in a basic question for statesmen, namely which territory can they count on, which populations can they speak to and what do those populations want... By now, the current leaders adapt to the patterns inherited from the colonizers: the Libyan state has untouchable and internationally recognized borders. The Libyan society, they argue, basically considers itself to be Libyan, despite tribal, religious and linguistic differences.

Reality is far from that. Different peoples that have been living in present Libyan territory for centuries now resurface. Some of them are settled on both sides of the borders that were drawn by colonizers. Some members of these peoples now dare to say that they do not feel identified with the Libyan people, considered by them artificial and only created to justify the existence of a unitary state. Gaddafi tried to suppress this reality by all means, but this has turned into a boomerang: eastern Libya's Cyrenaica declared themselves in March in favour of a federal Libya.

The Toubou, a semi-nomadic pastoral people living in vast desert areas of southern Libya, northern Chad and north-eastern Niger (covering an area of some 1,300,000 square km), are also raising their voice. They only reach the figure of 50,000 people in Libya, but local sources say they are being helped by Chadian fighters, possibly also Toubou: in the end of March there were clashes between Arabs and Toubous in the southern city of Sabha, resulting in 70 deaths.

Given these facts, the Toubou leader Issa Abdel Majid Mansur announced the "reactivation" of the Tubu Front for the Salvation of Libya in order to face what he considers a plan to conduct an "ethnic cleansing" against the Toubou. Mansur added that if things went on, they would ask for an "international intervention" to create a Toubou state.