Thursday, 19 January 2012
Libya: Bringing the militias to heel?
Meanwhile the violence continues. It is true that the militias have a reduced presence on the ground and that the number of checkpoints has been cut back. This does not mean, however, that the militias have stopped throwing their weight around. As the clashes that erupted this month demonstrate, in the absence of a strong authority rival militias continue to take the law into their own hands.
Moreover, the presence of so many armed young men with little else to do does not bode well for future security. Despite the schemes currently being devised by the new authorities to absorb militia members – such as the
Planning Ministry's recent proposal to pay those who join the official security structures a salary of LYD600 a month – there is still no indication that the national army is proving any more attractive than the militias.
As one young man from Benghazi who is still holed up in Tripoli explained, "It [the fighting] was really exciting and fun most of the time and I made some great friends!" The fact that hundreds of uniformed soldiers took to the streets this month and staged a demonstration outside the Central Bank branch in Benghazi to demand their salaries can have done little to help matters. The demonstrators declared that the new government should focus its attention on building a new army and not on giving cash rewards to the revolutionaries.
The police are doing little better than the army in the effort to recruit revolutionaries. According to one report, 24 hours after the police force opened its doors for militia members to sign up only 100 had done so.
For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.
© 2012 Menas Associates