Libya: Suspicions of corruption grow against Dbeibah government

Political analysts and media point to strong links between the president and Turkey

Following the failure of Libya’s parliamentary elections, which should have been held on 24 December, pressure and criticism against Abdul Hamid Dbeibé’s Government of National Unity (GNA) has increased. The Libyan population accuses the president of corruption and of acting according to foreign interests and agendas. It should be recalled that Dbeibé’s government, despite being an unelected government, has been internationally recognized and has the backing of Turkey and Qatar.

As reported by Al-Arab, the president is one of the most prominent members of the Dbeibé family in Misurata. In addition to managing large sums of money, this family has been accused of corruption. In June 2017, Libya’s House of Representatives included the Dbeibé clan among the list of entities accused of supporting terrorism for funding armed groups loyal to and linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Other international media have also reported on the corruption surrounding the president, even pointing to an alleged UN report confirming that Dbeibé allegedly bought his position as president by bribing delegates to vote for him.  

AFP PHOTO/UNITED NATIONS - Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah pronunciando un discurso por videoconferencia durante una reunión del Foro de Diálogo Político Libio (LPDF). - Los delegados libios en las conversaciones facilitadas por la ONU el 5 de febrero de 2021 eligieron a Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah como primer ministro de transición
Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah delivering a speech via video conference during a meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF). – Libyan delegates at the UN-facilitated talks on 5 February 2021 elected Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah as transitional prime minister.

Tawfiq al-Shehibi, leader of the Supreme Authority of the National Forces Alliance, has indicated that the current government corruption is the highest in history and “affects all ministries, agencies and departments affiliated with it (government) without exception”. Al-Shehibi also recalled that Dbeibé’s government, in power since March, “has not adhered to any financial, administrative or supervisory law or regulation”. The military leader also referred to “massive spending of billions without a budget law” and a “catastrophic rate of corruption that is hidden”.

Many Libyan citizens supported Al-Shehibi’s statements, recalling suspicions of corruption related to the squandering of public money and its use according to the president’s personal interests, as well as the interests of foreign agendas led by Ankara. “There is no smoke without fire, the amount of corruption today is unprecedented,” political analyst Ezzedine Aqeel told Al-Arab. Aqeel, in addition to pointing the finger at Dbeibé, also accuses the governor of the Central Bank of Libya, Siddiq al-Kabir. Aqeel speaks of $15.18 billion in transactions between the president and the head of the Central Bank. “Dbeibé and al-Kabir were forced to negotiate with each other because of Turkish pressure. They both implement Turkish orders,” he added. 

AFP/ADEM ALTAM - El presidente turco Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) y el primer ministro interino de Libia Abdul Hamid Dbeibah tras una comparecencia conjunta en el Palacio Presidencial de Ankara
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah after a joint appearance at the Presidential Palace in Ankara.

Libyan analyst Ahmed Al-Mahdawi recalled on Sky News Arabia that the governor of the Central Bank is accused of financing militias, and did not rule out that the 1.5 billion dollars were part of the sums deposited by the Turkish Central Bank to overcome the Turkish crisis. Al-Mahdawi also explained that the Supreme State Council concealed the report in recent years because its president, Khaled Al-Mashri, is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is close to Ankara. 

Last October, an official Libyan report was revealed, indicating the squandering of public money by the Central Bank. The document was issued in 2018, but the Supreme Council of State concealed it, so it was not possible to access it until now, according to Libyan media. There is talk of spending up to $1.5 billion, which political analysts say they link to links between Al-Kabir and Turkey.  

FOTO / AP - El presidente de Turquía, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
FOTO / AP – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
In addition to being corrupt, Dbeibe is accused of being a “misogynist” 

This week, the Libyan president was once again in the spotlight of controversy after remarks about Libya’s unmarried women. Speaking at an event to celebrate a grant to the marriage fund in Tripoli, Dbeibe claimed he wanted to “revitalise the market” for single women to make the prospect of marriage more lucrative. “Sometimes we give bonuses, especially to older women,” he added, reports The National News.

The president created the marriage support fund to encourage Libyans to marry during the economic crisis that arose with the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and the subsequent civil war. Dbeibe proposes awarding 40,000 Libyan dinars ($8,700) to each new Libyan couple who marry to help start their lives together.

FP/MAHMUD TURKIA - Graduados militares libios leales al Gobierno del Acuerdo Nacional (GNA) participan en un desfile que marca su graduación, resultado de un acuerdo de entrenamiento militar con Turquía, en el campamento Omar Mukhtar en la ciudad de Tajoura, al sureste de la capital Trípoli, el 21 de noviembre de 2020
Libyan military graduates loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) take part in a parade marking their graduation, the result of a military training deal with Turkey, at the Omar Mukhtar camp in the city of Tajoura, southeast of the capital Tripoli, on November 21, 2020

The president’s comments caused anger among many women. Under the hashtag ‘Libyan women are citizens, not merchandise’, social media was filled with criticism of Dbeibe and his “misogynistic” statements.

“The president, whose term expired last week, sees unmarried women as a commodity and a market he could benevolently invest in to kick-start it, as women’s only goal in life is to get married,” stated the Libyan Women for Peace Platform (LWPP), an organisation that advocates for women’s participation in the Libyan political process. Libyan journalist Huda Elsrari even called for “lifting Dbeibe’s immunity to prosecute him for insulting Libyan women and denying the values set by the constitution”.

However, the president has refused to apologize and even defended himself against the accusations by claiming that the criticism came from “people residing outside Libya” who “are not familiar” with Libyan culture and speech. 


Arab Observer

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