Remember that successful NATO bombing campaign against Muammar Qaddafi, the one that ousted his brutal regime and handed Libya over to the rebels? That’s the one that President Obama cites as a model for what he wants to do to Syria. Well, how’s it going with Libya these days? The Washington Post finds out:
Two years after the Arab Spring revolution that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi, and one year after the assault on a U.S. compound in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others, Libya’s fragile government has little control over the nation’s security.
Even minor disputes escalate into frequent gun violence on the streets. Kidnappings and armed robberies are increasing, and government officials and others have been assassinated with guns and bombs. Militants and arms smugglers easily cross poorly protected borders shared with Niger and Chad.
The murky security situation is threatening stability in a desert nation with North Africa’s largest oil reserves. And it is causing new jitters in a region already on edge over rising violence in neighboring Egypt and the looming prospect of U.S. military strikes in Syria.
As the postwar government struggles to rebuild after 42 years of dictatorship, it has left security primarily in the hands of hundreds of private militias, which are far larger and better armed than the country’s poorly trained and equipped police and army.
The militias, most of which were formed to oust Gaddafi in the 2011 revolution, range from ragtag outfits of a couple of dozen men to organized forces of thousands of fighters.
Wow, that sounds exciting! Tell me more:
After the dictator’s death in October 2011, many militia fighters — suddenly regarded as war heroes and liberators — never laid down their weapons.
Many still fight — with guns blazing — over long-standing rivalries. Some have morphed into criminal gangs, some are religious extremists. Many are a mix of everything — cops and robbers, patriots and jihadis — making it hard to identify which are helping Libya’s post-revolutionary transition and which are hindering it.
Wait, but … Syria? What’s going to happen if the rebel factions knock off Assad, with our help? Oh, not this, surely. Surely not. These freedom fighters are going to come together and settle their differences around the conference table, like proper gentlemen in a
war of all against all democracy.