[Ed. note: And they all lived happily ever after]
At the entry to the village of Bani Walid, someone scrawled “Allah, Muammar, Libya and nothing else” on a wall. It’s a battle cry among Gaddafi supporters and one that’s been frowned upon ever since the rebels’ victory. The residents of the mountain village, which is roughly 170 kilometers (106 miles) south of the capital Tripoli, look upon them as losers of the revolution. The privileges of the once mostly Gaddafi-loyal residents have vanished since his downfall.
The Warfalla, Libya’s largest tribe, play a dominant role in Bani Walid. Along with the Qadhadhfa, former ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi’s tribe, the Warfalla used to be especially powerful. By way of tribal relations, Bani Walid is connected to the former Gaddafi stronghold Sirte on the Mediterranean coast and to Sebha, capital of the country’s southwest region. In all three towns, the majority supported the regime in 2011.
Destruction can be seen everywhere in Bani Walid. In 2011, NATO troops bombed the town, and after a further state-ordered military attack in October 2012, Bani Walid looks like a ruinous fort. It became a target because of tensions with the port city of Misrata, a stronghold of Gaddafi’s opponents.