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New Libyan Army


Interesting WaPo piece on the future of the Libyan Army:

“Creating a new army is not going to be by an official statement or resolution. It has to come after a negotiation,” said Anis Sharif, a spokesman for Abdulhakim Belhadj, an Islamist seen as the dominant militia leader in Tripoli.

Reining in the militias is crucial to restoring order after the fighting between NATO-backed revolutionaries and loyalists of longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi, diplomats say. NATO officially ended its operations in Libya on Monday night, giving the country full responsibility for its own security.

Although many of the fighters have been in a celebratory mood since the war ended, several confrontations between rival militias have threatened to escalate into bloodshed — including one at Tripoli’s airport Monday.

The problem is twofold. The Libyan government requires an army for keeping internal order and for fighting remaining loyalists. However, the war didn’t last long enough to produce a cohesive, professional cadre, and there’s little model to build on from the ancien regime. Because of the heterogenous nature of the revolution, authority over the legitimate use of violence is now divided.

The dangers of this situation are obvious. A heterogenous “army,” controlled by vying factions is an invitation to renewed civil war. One of the upsides of being in the good graces of NATO is that there’s plenty of advice (often based on recent experience) available on the technical and bureaucratic aspects of putting together a national army from scratch. Unfortunately, that only goes so far; resolving the organizational issues have an important technocratic aspect, but remain essentially a political problem that needs to be solved at the level of negotiation between the major factions.

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