Sabrat’n is the historical name the Phoenicians have given Sabratha, around 500BC- a long time ago but sometimes, with the changes happening in and around the city, you are left with the feeling that nothing has changed much.
Back in the Phoenicians times, trade was the main activity of the port of Sabrat’n. Anything from spices to cutlery, wood and sadly, to slaves. That was the norm of those bleak, brutal and uncivil times; when humans can be bought and sold as commodities and properties to the highest bidder. So we thank god that we have moved on from that savage time. We, at a time of human rights equality and a profound respect for the human life, share a common need to be treated with dignity and not be abused, regardless of the situation we find ourselves in.
All that might be good and true with most of the people around the world- and my beloved Sabratha is not an exception, but you always find the small number of subhuman individuals that do not comprehend any of that and would gladly do evil or heinous things to anyone or anything if it had a financial benefit. Sad to say, but that happens throughout time and in a time where the materialistic gains and greed is celebrated all over the place. Wealth is a status symbol and something to aspire to, and Sabratha is not immune to this. Its well known and wildly reported illegal human trafficking trade has flourished in the absence of law and order.
On the 2nd of October 2016, a fierce battle erupted in Sabratha, at first the locals dismissed it as fighting militias doing what they do best which is terrorizing the community, a nearly daily occurrence that sadly everyone has gotten used to. However, on this occasion, something was different. The clash was not between Sabratha known militias but it was two unknown armed groups one from Al-Zawiya, 20km east of Sabratha, and the other was from Zwara, Sabratha’s border city to the west. What made this incident very different is that the clashes was not limited to fighting on land but has escalated to a full on sea war, as both groups tried to disrupt each others supply of illegal immigrants. With Zwara’s local authority cracking down on their human trafficking trade to stop the flow of African immigrants into the city, and Al-Zawya not able to be a very effective player due to the geographical and natural hindrance on its shore, that makes it very difficult to launch vessels from its sea shore, this leaves Sabratha as the major player in the west of Libya for an international hub for crossing into Europe.
In July of this past summer, a deadly clash erupted between Zwara militants and Al-Zawiya militias on the outskirts of Sabratha. The conflict was quickly resolved and publicly passed off as a nonsignificant incident by local security forces as it was holiday season and Libyans from all over the west come to enjoy the beautiful beaches and cooler weather. It was not until much later that the real reason of that conflict was known. The sinister motive for the clash came from sources close to members of local militias involved in the human smuggling trade. They stated that the real reason of the clashes was an auction for immigrants in Sabratha that descended into chaos after Al-Zawiya smugglers accused Zwara smugglers of driving the prices for the immigrants per head down to cut out Al-Zawiya’s supply of immigrants to Sabratha traffickers.
And as with most disagreements involving criminal militias, the only way to solve it was to use violence. The local trafficking cartels, not wanting the situation to get out of hand more and risk losing the constant supply of immigrants willing to cross to Europe from both cities, worked very hard to quell the conflict and agree on a deal with both parties.
This auction of tragedy that reduced human beings to a commodity that you can sell and buy for the right price is everything that is wrong with the situation in the new Libya. Greed is good and then sort it out afterwards with any means possible- even if inevitably it will lead to a generation of morally corrupt and a conscienceless society.