Libya: Enough!


November 30, 2013: As predicted, for several months the government is warning the population that government pay and benefits will soon sharply decrease because disruption to oil exports has cut government income by 80 percent. That’s because 96 percent of government income comes from the export of oil. The government is short some $55 billion and is unable to borrow any more to cover the missing income. Most of the population depends on government payments to live and nearly everyone gets something. This was how the Kaddafi dictatorship remained in power for so long, by sharing the wealth. Post revolution efforts to grab control of oil facilities to extort more money from the government has shut down most oil exports. The government refuses to give in to the extortion demands and is reluctant to attack the occupiers lest the facilities be damaged severely. It could take months or, in some cases, years to repair the damage.

Most of the militias have been forced or persuaded to leave the capital. Over the last six months the government disbanded (or at least neutralized) the 40,000 armed militia men who fought in the 2011 revolution and became the local government after the Kaddafi era administration was destroyed. There were about 250 militias, usually based on clan, tribe, or neighborhood ties and led by local leaders. Many were simply local defense units that continued in that function in the lawless and sometimes chaotic months after Kaddafi era soldiers, police, and secret police were killed or driven away (or just went into hiding). Some of the militias had other agendas and some of them were pro-Kaddafi. Many were led by Islamic radicals and had many foreign terrorists in their ranks. Others were led by men who wanted to form a new Libyan government, but these were outnumbered. In the cities, especially Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata, and Ziltan, a brutal competition took place over the last two years, as the more powerful militias destroyed or absorbed the weaker ones and either joined the security forces of the new national government or continued to be hostile to outside control and sought to maintain their independence. This was especially true of tribal militias in remote areas and those in the east (especially Benghazi). It has been increasingly common for men who had not fought in the revolution to join militias to replace rebel fighters who have found work or gotten tired of the militia life. This meant that the militias were increasingly becoming criminal gangs, and that made the public even more hostile to these groups.

November 28, 2013: Over 40 people were killed or wounded in the south (640 kilometers from the capital at an airbase outside Sabha) as some 50 looters swarmed into an ammunition storage area. Someone mishandled something that exploded and the subsequent fire caused more explosions.

In Benghazi someone fired on a checkpoint and wounded three soldiers. Earlier in the day three soldiers were killed when troops clashed with Islamic terrorist militiamen. Another soldier was shot dead as he left a café.

November 26, 2013: The bodies of two soldiers were found outside the eastern town of Derna.

November 25, 2013: In Benghazi troops launched an attack on the base of the Islamic terrorist Ansar Al Sharia militia. This fighting left seven dead and over 60 wounded. This was the first time the army had attacked Ansar Al Sharia and that was largely because most people in Benghazi want the militias gone.

November 23, 2013: In the eastern town of Derna, two gunmen shot dead a former member of the Kaddafi era secret police. Elsewhere a visiting Iraqi professor in the town was kidnapped, and later a video appeared on the Internet announcing his death because he was Shia. Sunni Islamic terrorists in Derna have been increasingly violent lately.

November 22, 2013: In the capital over 7,000 people turned out to continue protesting against the remaining militias.

November 21, 2013: Several militias, under growing pressure, packed their gear and left the capital. The public pressure, the presence of more soldiers, and a general strike in the capital is forcing the militias to get out.

November 20, 2013: In the southern city of Sabha gunmen stole $1,260,000 from a truck transporting the cash to a local bank. Meanwhile, police have identified who stole $54 million on October 28th (near the eastern city of Sirte) and are negotiating to get it back.  

November 19, 2013: The government said it was going to move all the militias out of the capital, and this time it appears the effort may succeed. The militias are increasingly unpopular and now the government has sufficient troops and police to destroy any single militia that dares to resist. The militias have never cooperated with each other much and now is no different. The government is taking a census of the militias in Tripoli and plans to move them all so none are closer than 30 kilometers from the city. By offering to move, rather than disband, the militias, the government is getting cooperation from many of the militias. Those few that refuse to cooperate will be attacked.

November 18, 2013: Thousands of soldiers entered the capital to help persuade the militias to leave Tripoli. Crowds cheered the entry of the troops and the public is now openly hostile to the militias.

November 17, 2013: A senior intelligence officer was kidnapped in the capital.

November 16, 2013: A general strike was declared in the capital and most businesses, with the exception of bakeries, pharmacies, hospitals, and gas stations, are closed. This strike is to continue until the militias are all out of Tripoli. Meanwhile, soldiers and pro-government militiamen attacked a militia base. While most of the defending militiamen fled, four were killed and over a dozen wounded during the fighting. Elsewhere in the city members of the Misrata militia attacked an army base and looted it.  

November 15, 2013: In the capital several thousand protestors marched on a military base occupied by a militia from Misrata. Some of the militiamen fired on the unarmed demonstrators. Police and soldiers got involved, and before it was all over two days later at least 47 were dead and more than 500 wounded. Public anger towards the militias has been on the increase this month because, since November 5th, there has been almost daily fighting between rival militias.

The U.S. revealed that since January it has been quietly offering a $10 million reward for information about who was involved in the September 11, 2012 attack on American diplomats in Benghazi.  

November 14, 2013: In Benghazi an army officer and a retired air force officer were killed in two separate incidents.

November 13, 2013: Berber protestors who halted operations in a gas and oil exporting facility 100 kilometers west of the capital have also halted gas for electrical power plants, and the government is trying to deal with that before there are widespread blackouts.




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