Libya: Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose


February 12, 2013: The second anniversary of the revolution is being memorialized on the 15th but there is not much cause for celebration. Disunity, corruption, warlords, and an inability to provide law and order has stalled the economy and the return of government services. The oil income allows the government to delay another major rebellion but if the current conditions persist, the country will fall back into another period of open war. There are still over 200,000 gunmen in illegal militias and the government is moving slowly to organize police forces capable of shutting down these groups. The militias are a major reason why it has been so difficult to get the economy and government going again.

Western intelligence agencies have told Algeria and Libya that there are a lot of Islamic terrorists operating in southern Libya and it will be from there that more attacks will be launched on Algerian, Libyan, and Tunisian gas and oil facilities. American intelligence also found some Islamic terrorists who were involved in both last month’s attack in southern Algeria and the one in Libya (Benghazi) last September, that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya. There is so little government control in Benghazi that there has been no effective police action to find and arrest any of these suspects.

Then there is the Mali problem. Libya’s southern border is 4,600 kilometers long and largely desert. Anyone with enough fuel, water, and a GPS can sneak across. Libya has officially closed this border since late December but military patrols have sighted vehicles and camel caravans crossing in both directions. The recent defeat of al Qaeda in Mali is believed to have sent some of the surviving Islamic terrorists into Libya but information is scant and no one really knows.

A favorite target of the Islamic radical militias has been the small Christian community. Most of the 100,000 Christians who were in Libya two years ago are gone, fleeing growing crime and persecution. The Islamic radical groups feel it is their duty to persecute non-Moslems and drive them out of the country. The government is officially against this sort of thing but has neither the forces nor the will to take on the Islamic radical militias over this issue.

The government has tried to channel some of the Islamic radical violence in a useful direction. The government in Tripoli hired an Islamic radical militia to eliminate the illegal drugs that are increasingly common. The Islamic radicals went at it but also sought to enforce all the other lifestyle rules they favored. This produced armed confrontations with secular militias. Another problem with all these militias is the growth in crime. Murder, rape, theft, and kidnapping are all more common. Often the crooks are militia members, going gangster on the side to augment their small (or non-existent) militia wage. The warlords who often lead these militias are sometimes running criminal enterprises as well. Many militias are basically local self-defense groups, but even some of these see no problem in plundering nearby areas they don’t control. The murder rate has increased five times over the last three years and most other crime has shown similar jumps.

On the Egyptian border police continue to seize shipments of weapons (stolen from government warehouses during the revolution) being smuggled out. The Libyan border police can be bribed, not so for most of the Egyptians. Most of the smuggled weapons are getting through to Gaza and onto ships where the smugglers can reach even more distant markets.

February 9, 2013: The government sharply reduced the number of visas issued to Lebanese and is seeking to keep pro-Iran and Islamic radical Lebanese out of the country.

February 6, 2013: An Algerian army base just across the border was attacked by about 50 Islamic terrorists from Libya. With the assistance of Algerian warplanes and attack helicopters the attack was defeated and at least two of the attackers were killed. The army pursued the attackers to the border and captured one of them alive.

January 31, 2013: The government now demands that all foreigners wishing to enter Libya must get a visa. This is meant to keep out gangsters and Islamic radicals. It does keep some out, but most can get into Egypt and sneak across the border.

January 30, 2013: In the aftermath of the Islamic terror attack on an Algerian natural gas facility just across the border, the government has increased security around its own oil and gas operations. Islamic radicals in Libya have not attacked these assets because the cash generated by oil and gas sales still benefits most Libyans. Thus an attack on this source of cash would be very unpopular. Foreign Islamic radical groups would be less concerned about losing popularity inside Libya. Being on a Mission From God does that to you.

January 28, 2013: Britain announced that it has detected a threat to their embassy in Tripoli. Four days earlier Britain urged its citizens to leave Benghazi. Germany and Netherlands followed suit, claiming the same reason (fear of Islamic terrorist attack).


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