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Libya Has A Major Militia Problem

It was only a (short) matter of time before Libya’s oil was once again in a very precarious position as various factions in rival governments attempt to jockey for position. Militia warfare in Tripoli (the seat of the Government of National Accord, GNA) broke out on Monday, killing an estimated 50 people as of Wednesday and wounding scores of others, before dying down. 

The trigger in this case was the arrest of a militia commander affiliated with the Libyan defense ministry and allied with the Libyan interim prime minister of the GNA, Abdulhamid Dbeibah. The “arrest” of the commander was perpetrated by another Tripoli militia, also aligned with Dbeibah. 

The fighting began to subside once Dbeibah negotiated a deal for the commander’s release late on Tuesday. But this all further underlines the fact that Libya has a major militia problem that will be more than merely challenging to unite in order to hold elections without major violence and a return to active civil war.

There are various militias that support Dbeibah (the western government based in Tripoli), various militias that support the rival eastern powers in Benghazi, and various militias that support neither. It’s a tinderbox of militia that need to be bought and paid for and switch alliances or launch battles at the slightest indication of the balance of power shifting, or for a better offer. 

This setup renders it virtually impossible to hold elections…

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