Libya: We Want It All And We Want It Now

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July 16, 2013: The government is now fully committed to disbanding and disarming the remaining militias. The problem remains having the trained soldiers and police to actually make this happen. Meanwhile, the government is deadlocked over creating a new constitution. The government is forced to expend most of its energy on keeping the population (most of them dependent on government handouts) happy and non-violent. Many Libyans are more into entitlement than joining together for the common good. Decades of Kaddafi’s dictatorial welfare state had left many people incapable of forming and running a democratic government. This is what most Libyans want, but there is disagreement and uncertainty about how to go about it.

July 15, 2013: Oil production and shipping has resumed, after having been largely shut down since June 25th. There had been many disruptions in oil fields and export facilities last month, which cut average production to 1.3 million barrels a day. The disruptions were mainly caused by men demanding jobs or more money for their area of the country. These groups blocked oil facilities until they got what they wanted. Oil accounts for 70 percent of Libyan GDP and the government is eager to resume full production (3 million barrels a day).

July 10, 2013: Security forces have regained control of the Interior Ministry compound in Tripoli. For a week (since July 2nd) angry militiamen had occupied the compound. The occupiers had objected to the disbanding of SSCs (Special Security Committees) at the end of last year. The first post Kaddafi government (the NTC) formed a national police called the SSC a year ago. Soon some 60,000-strong former militiamen (and some who fought for Kaddafi) joined SSCs. The pay was high and regular, but leadership was largely amateur. The SSC was not welcome in Misrata and Zintan and had its hands full dealing with independent militias in Tripoli and Benghazi. The SSCs were also trying to arrange an end to fighting between black African and Arab tribes around the southeastern town of Kufra. This had been going on for months and had left over 200 dead by mid-2012. Another source of violence, which the SSC has been less successful against, were Islamic radical groups in eastern Libya. Some of these groups want to turn Libya into a religious dictatorship and declare war against the non-Moslem world. These Islamic radicals had already attacked Westerners in the area and were responsible for desecrating World War II era graves of Western soldiers. All this is a big embarrassment for the NTC, which knew it needed to work with the West (to sell the oil and import goods and services). At the same time, the NTC did not want the local Islamic radicals to declare war on the NTC.  The SSC turned out to be incapable of dealing with the Islamic terror groups, and many SSC members were out for themselves, not the common good. In many parts of the country the SSC men were seen as government supported bandits, and by late 2012, the government decided to shut down SSC and move the most reliable SSC members over to the newly formed police force. This put many SSC members out of work and some of those men took over the Interior Ministry in an effort to get paid.

July 7, 2013: In Libya there were more anti-militia demonstrations. In the east the ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf were reopened, after security guards there halted their strike (for better working conditions) that had shut down the two oil shipping facilities for three days.

July 5, 2013: In Benghazi someone fired on the car of the French consul, who was uninjured.

June 27, 2013: The Defense Minister was dismissed, after troops under his command were unable to halt three days of terrorist and militia violence in the capital. The fighting and bombings left ten dead and dozens wounded.

June 25, 2013: South of Sirte unidentified gunmen attacked an army checkpoint and killed six soldiers. The coastal town of Sirte has a population of 100,000 and was Kaddafi's birthplace. Before 2011, it was full of his well-cared for Kaddafi supporters. Sirte was heavily damaged, and looted, during the rebellion. Most of the population fled the fighting, and when they returned they found a much less prosperous lifestyle. This caused some of the locals to arm themselves and misbehave.

 

 

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