Libya: Private Armies Get Ultimatum


December 7, 2011:  The government has given militias from outside the city until December 20th to leave Tripoli. If these militias do not leave the government will close Tripoli to outside traffic and take additional unspecified actions. Several militias are still roaming the city, doing pretty much whatever they want. Militias from places like Zintan and Misarata have taken control of parts of the city and refuse to go. They set up their own checkpoints and take bribes to allow people to pass. Eleven local militias have been organized as the new police for the city, taking control of areas they come from. The national government wants to avoid battles between the local and outside militias.

The unruly militias have also caused problems on the Tunisian border, where undisciplined militiamen have gotten into gun battles with Tunisian border guards.

The new government has agreed to crack down on the smuggling of Africans and Arabs to Italy. There's an Italian island 100 kilometers from Libya that the smugglers head for. Once on Italian territory, EU law requires that the illegal migrants be taken care of and often allowed to stay in Europe. This is very unpopular in Europe. NATO asked for the new Libyan government to show some gratitude by helping to halt the flood of illegal migrants.

Residents of Tripoli have until the end of the month to turn in illegal weapons. This mostly means heavy weapons (mortars, machine-guns and RPGs, but also grenades and explosives).

December 6, 2011: Al Qaeda openly urged Libyans to hold on to their weapons, and resist government attempts to collect illegal weapons. Al Qaeda is not popular in Libya, but holding on to an assault rifle or pistol is.

December 5, 2011:  In Central Libya, ten people were killed when someone lit a cigarette in a ammunition storage facility. Seven of those killed were African migrants hired as laborers. The government, with NATO help, is still hustling to secure Kaddafi era military bases.

December 4, 2011:  The government has set up a committee to investigate corruption in the oil industry during the Kaddafi years. Billions of dollars in oil profits were believed to be stolen and the new government wants to find who took what, so the guilty can be punished and the money can be recovered. This effort is also meant to discourage new oil corruption problems.

In Tripoli, rival militias began shooting at each other. One man was killed and several buildings destroyed.

December 2, 2011: The UN has extended its work "mandate" in Libya for another three months, to help the new government get organized. The UN is also trying to ensure that the 7,000 prisoners the new government is holding are not mistreated. Many of these prisoners committed atrocities for Kaddafi.

December 1, 2011:  The government announced that 50,000 rebel fighters would be trained to be professional soldiers, while another 150,000 rebel gunmen would receive other benefits. All this is part of an effort to disband the dozens of rebel militias that appeared in the seven months before the Kaddafi government fell in August.

November 28, 2011:  A meeting of 250 religious leaders called for disarming civilians and instituting Islamic (Sharia) law. There is popular support for collecting lots of weapons, but not as much for Islamic law. People don't want a religious dictatorship to replace Kaddafi's.

November 26, 2011: The government held a conference of tribal leaders to address the demands of the tribes. Many tribes believe that the new government does not adequately address the interests of the tribes. Many of the rebel militias are based on tribal membership and the tribes are reluctant to disband their tribal armies.

November 24, 2011: The senior officials of the new government were announced and many tribal leaders complained that the tribes were being ignored.

November 20, 2011: Abdullah al Senussi, the head of intelligence for the Kaddafi government, was captured in the south. NATO intelligence experts will want to interrogate Senussi for what he knows about terror groups Kaddafi supported.

November 19, 2011:  The last Kaddafi son at large, Saif al Islam Kaddafi, was captured in the south while trying to sneak across the border into Niger.

November 15, 2011: Several hundred uniformed soldiers of the new Libyan Army were sent to the city of Zawiya to halt renewed fighting between rival tribal militias.




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