The recent controversy surrounding Haftar, combined with international media reports of an imminent western intervention, is threatening to weaken and complicate local anti-ISIS coalitions, in both Eastern and Western regions of Libya.
In Eastern Libya, a number of tribes, including the Magherba and Drissi tribes (Hijazi’s tribe), are beginning to question the structure and leadership of the LNA. Hijazi himself has fled to Ajdabiya, after reports of an apparent attempt on his life and the bombing of his home in Benghazi. It is worth noting that the Magherba tribe, which has influence in the Libyan Oil Crescent, and is also the tribe of Ibrahim Jadhran, head of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), attempted to defuse fighting inside Ajdabiya between LNA units and other local Islamist militias close to the PFG.
The PFG also managed to successfully push back ISIS militants west to the town of Bin Jawwad after the latest ISIS attack on Ras Lanuf port. On 24 January, PFG spokesman Ali Al Hassi said the PFG is ready to mount an attack on ISIS in Bin Jawwad, but this is unlikely to happen. Despite the growing animosity between the PFG and the LNA, the LNA air force also struck ISIS positions in Bin Jawwad on 23 January.
In Western Libya, recognition of the threat posed by ISIS continues to grow, particularly in Tripoli, where the GNC has increased checkpoints, searches and monitoring of foreigners.
Last week, Sheikh Sadeq Al Gheryani, Grand Mufti of Libya and an iconic figure of the Islamist faction controlling Tripoli, congratulated the GNC on the ratification of Sharia as a basis for Libyan law. For the last two years, Libyan officials working under the GNC in Tripoli have been conducting a thorough review of all active Libyan legislation, to evaluate its compliance with the principles of Sharia. The process has apparently determined that more than 90% of the laws in Libya already conform to Sharia.
The Grand Mufti’s statement serves to strengthen the anti-ISIS coalition’s Islamist credentials, and as a foil to the ISIS claim of ideological purity. Despite the political rhetoric by the HoR and opponents of the Islamist bloc against the Grand Mufti, which highlight his controversial and divisive role in the country’s political process, Al Gheryani and Dar Al Ifta (the religious authority in Libya) have published widely on the threat presented by ISIS and the religious case against the group.