“Tripoli” you know. “Misrata” and “Zintan”, probably, you don’t. Yet from such obscure sandpits come the scorpions to sting Libya’s still nascent revolution in the ass.
Instead of cooperating in the development of an open and progressing democracy, the militia, apparently, perhaps unknowingly as they act in their own self-interest, have set the stage for a loose confederation of feudal city states. We’ll learn soon to what extent, if any, yesterday’s handover to the military of militia positions in Tripoli proves merely cosmetic.
Setting aside the God Mob for a moment, the militia, whatever their motivation, own each the monopoly on arms within their own bailiwicks. Why should any give up control of an airstrip, oil field, port, or transfer point?
What’s in it for them after having ended the reign of Qaddafi?
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The heavily armed groups, some of them led by Islamic extremists, have defied control by the weak central government, carving out fiefdoms, acting as a law unto themselves and imposing their control.
Esam Mohamed’s AP article posted to ABC goes on to note intentions to introduce law criminalizing “the illegal possession of arms” to get at “unruly militias”.
Yo! My fellow Americans: how is that gonna work?
It’s not going to be that easy with Libya, i.e., beefing up the Libyan military with NATO vitamins and punching down those unruly militia: the truth is the entire paradigms involving big kahuna and militia-warrior self-concept plus the idea of real sustainable power has to be addressed by way of the poetry installed in the heads of militia chiefs.
The witnessing world (online, at least) knows how corruption and government have worked out in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, also how the Muslim Botherhood has asserted its botherly values in Egypt, Syria (I am conflating MB with the Al Qaeda affiliates in that theater), and Turkey (if Erdogan had had the free rein he had hoped to possess): how is Libya’s central government to tell a city-state militia how fair the nascent state’s constitution, laws, and actual real political workings will be to his clan, family, and tribe the day he and his loyal own give up their arms and both the defensive and piratical capabilities implied — or demonstrated — by their ownership?
Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and NATO may have to threaten other than force and offer other than corrupt deals to Libya’s seemingly equally nascent warlords to wrap around this challenge, which is not solely, or even practically, frankly, a military problem.
The fighting would seem to go on (and on and on) in the heart, and that is an intellectual problem, a problem in the language and related cultural conventions of the place.
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Along the Popular Militia Fronts
Barqa Army — related:
The imposition of a political narrative by Libya’s eastern federalist movement, represented by the Cyrenaica Transitional Council (CTC), on the August series of strikes by the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) has complicated Libya’s problem of widespread disruption to the oil and gas sector, which began in late 2012. The PFG, the body officially responsible for oilfield security, succeeded in shutting down all oil export operations in the east of Libya in mid-August.
That directly above may provide the Left with a good tale about greed and oil.
There’s something of Pakistan’s “Baluchistan Conflict” in the mix involving indigenous interests, much including armed ones, associated with the local outstanding natural resource and more remote nascent state interests in the same.
Nuri Abusahmain – President, General National Congress: ordered Libya Shield into Tripoli; reference also Wissam Bin Ahmid who leads Libya Shield.
“I don’t know why the Americans don’t come here,” said Wissam Bin Hamid, commander of the Libyan Shield Brigade, a militia that came under sustained attack while helping defend the second compound on Sept. 11. “Maybe they are afraid.”
Wissam’s (we have a way to go with the transliteration of Arab last names) took a hit defending the compound in Benghazi (I think that’s what I’ve read), but at the Arab world’s troubled nexus in which rightful autonomy slams into righteous and justifiable mistrust, Ahmid/Hamid has gotten a uniformly bad rap in the right-side’s anti-Jihad press.
The west wants to play it like a one-hour television drama: get in; get rid of the President-for-Life and some related assortment of knuckleheads; establish a democratic constitution; get out; chocolates, flowers, and champagne all around. Go team! However, with absolute authoritarianism the region’s bad habit in practice and in thought — and perhaps too in language — and the possession of a theocratic political ideology to match it, evolving forward proves an extraordinary challenge to those to whom it has been posed.
In an effort to oust Qaddafi, independent militias of varying strength have been formed inside Libya and are threatening regional security inside the country. Of these the Zintan militia is one of the foremost examples of a brigade with strong organizational skills, effective tactics and entrenched authority in their base city of Zintan. On December 10th, the Zintan brigade was involved in a firefight with the convoy of the ex-commander-in-chief of the National Army, Major General Khalifa Haftar. The Zintan Brigade acted without orders from the National Army, which they accused of not notifying them of the convoy’s approach to the Tripoli airport. It is becoming a major challenge for the Libyan Transitional Council to integrate these militiamen in the new security structure of Libya. The Zintan Brigade and other militias will continue to be key actors in Libya affecting the domestic security situation until they become fully integrated into the new Libyan National Army.
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To some extent, the struggle is between Islamists and more secular-minded Libyans. If the Misratans are indeed pushed back to their home town, it will be a setback for the Islamists. At the heart of the retreating forces is the Libyan Shield, hitherto the most powerful of the militias, both in Misrata and in the country at large. It is allied to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party,
Libya and its militias: Make or break | The Economist – 11/18/2013.
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Libya’s deputy intelligence chief has been freed a day after being abducted at the airport in Tripoli, military sources have told the BBC.
Mustafa Nuh had reportedly been held by gunmen from the western town of Zintan.
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Rival Militias Quit Tripoli, Hand Bases to Libyan Army – 11/21/2013.
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Armed militias are the real power in the land. They range from former revolutionaries to criminals to al-Qaeda affiliates. Some have taken over key Libyan oilfields. Others are providing muscle to those who want to set up a breakaway autonomous entity in the east of the country . . . The trouble is that the militias do not respond to polite requests.
BBC News – Libyans yearn for order to replace gun – 11/18/2013.
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BBC News – Armed militias still on the streets in Libya – 11/18/2013.
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Who’s Really In Control of Libya’s Guns? | Transitions (Foreign Policy) – 8/16/2013.
“We want to save the mankind and humanity.”
▶ Bizarre Qaddafi Rant on Taliban, U.S. Civil War, Humanity – YouTube – Posted 9/23/2009.
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Qaddafi’s bipolar semblance in public may be typical of the disorder’s associated delusional grandiose and messianic ideation.
The west has gotten around the problem posed by extraordinary revenue accruing to individuals and dynasties by invoking — albeit from time to time — the concept that is “noblesse oblige”: the expectation that the nobility must prove itself noble or face the wrath of the people, such wrath proving overwhelming across the four or five centuries preceding the 21st.
With the Qaddafi’s of the world too, the west has developed a so far applicable and useful conceptual inventory in psychology: we look at persons and various aspects and channels in their behavior and can perceive “bipolar disorder” or “narcissistic personality disorder” and in political psychology the manifestations of the “malignant narcissist”.
In the still medieval politics of Islam, power knows systematic corruption — bribery, intimidation, murder, patronage — and the tools known to all self-asserting “Men of Honor and Respect”, which is the humanity, essentially, associated with mafia dons.
For countermeasure within those societies as well as outside of them, the abstract invisible “hinge of fate” remains the cold hardened spiritual steel that all humanity knows to call “integrity” or equivalent: specifically the essential and irreducible identity and best qualities of the person as made by God and set out in relation to others.
Bedeviling that valued concept may be the consequences for remote tribes, their elders, and chiefs and sons and daughters of misplaced trust plus the realpolitik and real money that accompanies a host of feudal practices: start with “tribute” along “protected routes” and end somewhere around the preference for the telling of a loyal lie — or an advantageous one — over the clarity of a disadvantageous, inconvenient, or uncomfortable truth.
All in all, “resetting” Libya isn’t the government’s challenge: it’s the militia’s challenge and it has to do with resetting themselves without degrading or endangering their parochial interests or their image before those closest to them.
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